In this moving tribute, Will Schwalbe shares his love for his mother through the prism of their own personal book club. When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 73, Will wanted to be with her and steer her through this “treatable but incurable” disease as much as possible. During the long hours they spent at doctors visits and waiting for medical tests, they began reading and discussing the same books.
Mary Anne Schwalbe may not be a household name, but she is a hero to many refugees throughout the world. Her volunteer work involved going to places such as Sierra Leone and Thailand to minister to the needs of the injured, hungry, and dispossessed. She was the founder of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and most recently was instrumental in the development of libraries in Afghanistan.
Her work took courage and great heart, as did her passage to death. It is through the shared reading of books — the book club of two — that her son Will is to come to know her more intimately and more appreciatively than ever, and to share her with the rest of the reading world.
Because this memoir centers on books and discussion of those books, it is the perfect book club choice. It would be the ideal start for the new book club year because it includes the titles of the books Mary Anne and Will read together and their thoughts on them, providing a wonderful and eclectic road map for future book club choices.
Alfred A. Knopf/Random House; ISBN 978-0-30759-403-7; $25