When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, she didn’t want to slow down. A tireless advocate for refugees around the world, Mary Anne didn’t stop striving to build a library in Afghanistan — or continuing to discover new literature with her son Will. In his engrossing, deeply moving new memoir The End of Your Life Book Club (EW grade: A), Will Schwalbe writes about his mother’s last days through the prism of the things they read together. He took the time to talk to EW about his mother’s inspiring legacy and the transformative power of books.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Your mother Mary Anne was clearly an exceptional person with very impressive accomplishments and passions — but in a way, I felt like she was every great mom, and you were like every child of a great mom who wanted to give her the tribute she deserved.
WILL SCHWALBE: There’s no reaction that could make me happier than that reaction. I’m very proud of my mother. But when she died, there was no obituary in the New York Times. She wasn’t famous. In fact, I don’t think her name was ever in the New York Times, and that’s true of most people’s moms. I like to think of her as an extraordinary, ordinary person. There are so many extraordinary, ordinary people across the country — people who are fantastic mothers and adore their children, and their children adore them, and do incredible things in their communities. I was in publishing for 21 years, and I saw a lot of really wonderful memoirs by people who had very difficult times with their mothers. In fact, it’s almost a kind of genre, yet there are a lot of people who have great mothers. In some ways, I feel like this is a celebration of moms. READ FULL STORY