The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe, scored a 6.6 Although not the feel good book of the summer, the poignancy of this story moved our group and gave rise to an emotional discussion.
As Logan's Run put it, TEOYLBC is at its core a story about a relationship and how it was affected by books. Just as reading opened up new areas in her life, the shared love of books transformed the last years the author spent with his mother while she battled pancreatic cancer. This book touched the hearts of our own little book club in many ways. Rarely in our ten-plus years together has there been such a personal and sad conversation. The trust and intimacy among us is truly special; we are lucky for this group of friends, our time together, our families, our intellect, our sense of humor. Herein lies the real value of the book. It was a reaffirmation that time spent with loved ones will never be something to regret. And it shows how there can be opportunities in all kinds of ways to give back to people who are meaningful to us. In this case, the author and his siblings took weeks out of their lives-- otherwise filled with jobs, kids, various other commitments that "busy" people have-- to stay with their mother during her chemotherapy treatments and while she was admitted to the hospital. What a big influence she must have had on her children, how much she must have given them over the years, to receive such love and respect in return. On a lighter note, it was fun to come across books that TEOYLBC had read that we have as well-- A Long Way Gone, Felicia's Journey and the Kite Runner to name a few.
There were in fairness several points made about some of the shortcomings of TEOYLBC. Like other recent reads, this book was too long! Editor, heal thyself. The Highlander remarked that the story went on and on about the author and his mother talking about books, but left her wanting for an understanding of how books really connected them, and the feeling that the whole premise was somewhat contrived. A few people also complained that the mother's character was depicted as larger than life and as a result came across as implausible-- had she really devoted all her time and efforts to noble causes, did she really impart to her kids that many pearls of wisdom, was her attitude really always so even-keeled. And the author himself got criticized for being WASP-y and over-eager to drive home (likely out of a sense of guilt) the point that he was sooooo lucky that he never had to work. But at the end of the day, the book's flaws did not overshadow its message, which is one that our book club could stand to be reminded of every now and again.
Our next meeting is on July 10 at Logan's Run's house. The Maharani is on apps, Ms. K on dessert. We are reading A Thousand Pardons, by Jonathan Dee. Until next time, read early and often! And come with suggestions for the LOD; methinks we need an August book. xoej