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The End of Your Life Book Club [Anglais] [Broché]

Will Schwalbe
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
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Description de l'ouvrage

6 juin 2013

Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she's reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. Their choices range from classic (Howards End) to popular (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), from fantastic (The Hobbit) to spiritual (Jon Kabat-Zinn), with many in between. We hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.

A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.

'A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them.' - Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie

'a true meditation on what books can do.' - Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

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Descriptions du produit


Crossing to Safety

We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-­Kettering’s outpatient care center. The coffee isn’t so good, and the hot chocolate is worse. But if, as Mom and I discovered, you push the “mocha” button, you see how two not-­very-­good things can come together to make something quite delicious. The graham crackers aren’t bad either.

   The outpatient care center is housed on the very pleasant fourth floor of a handsome black steel and glass office building in Manhattan on the corner of 53rd Street and Third Avenue. Its visitors are fortunate that it’s so pleasant, because they spend many hours there. This is where people with cancer wait to see their doctors and to be hooked up to a drip for doses of the life-­prolonging poison that is one of the wonders of the modern medical world. By the late autumn of 2007, my mother and I began meeting there regularly.

   Our book club got its formal start with the mocha and one of the most casual questions two people can ask each other: “What are you reading?” It’s something of a quaint question these days. More often in lulls of conversation people ask, “What movies have you seen?” or “Where are you going on vacation?” You can no longer assume, the way you could when I was growing up, that anyone is reading anything. But it’s a question my mother and I asked each other for as long as I can remember. So one November day, while passing the time between when they took Mom’s blood and when she saw the doctor (which preceded the chemo), I threw out that question. Mom answered that she was reading an extraordinary book, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

   Crossing to Safety, which was first published in 1987, is one of those books I’d always so intended to read that I spent years pretending not only that I’d actually read it but also that I knew more about its author than that he’d been born in the early years of the twentieth century and wrote mostly about the American West. I worked in book publishing for twenty-­one years and, in various conversation lulls, got into the habit of asking people, especially booksellers, the name of their favorite book and why they loved it so much. One of the most frequently named books was and is always Crossing to Safety.

   Raving about books I hadn’t read yet was part of my job. But there’s a difference between casually fibbing to a bookseller and lying to your seventy-­three-­year-­old mother when you are accompanying her for treatments to slow the growth of a cancer that had already spread from her pancreas to her liver by the time it was diagnosed.

   I confessed that I had not, in fact, read this book.

   “I’ll give you my copy when I’m finished,” said my mother, who was always much thriftier than I am.

   “That’s okay, I have a copy,” I told her, which was, in fact, true. There are certain books that I mean to read and keep stacked by my bedside. I even take them on trips. Some of my books should be awarded their own frequent-­flier miles, they’ve traveled so much. I take these volumes on flight after flight with the best of intentions and then wind up reading anything and everything else (SkyMall! Golf Digest!). I’d brought Crossing to Safety on so many trips and returned it to my bedside unread so many times that it could have earned at least one first-­class ticket to Tokyo on Japan Airlines.

   But this time it would be different. That weekend I started it, and then, at about page twenty or so, the magical thing occurred that happens only with the very best books: I became absorbed and obsessed and entered the “Can’t you see I’m reading?” mode. For those of you who haven’t read Crossing to Safety (or are still pretending to have read it), it’s a story about the lifelong friendship of two couples: Sid and Charity, and Larry and Sally. At the start of the novel, Charity is dying of cancer. So once I read it, it was natural that I would want to talk about it with Mom. The novel gave us a way to discuss some of the things she was facing and some of the things I was facing.

   “Do you think he’ll be all right?” I would ask her, referring to Sid, who is very much alone at the end.

   “Of course it’ll be tough on him, but I think he’ll be fine. I’m quite sure of it. Maybe not right away. But he’ll be fine,” she would answer, also referring to Sid but perhaps to my father as well.

   Books had always been a way for my mother and me to introduce and explore topics that concerned us but made us uneasy, and they had also always given us something to talk about when we were stressed or anxious. In the months since her diagnosis, we’d started talking more and more about books. But it was with Crossing to Safety that we both began to realize that our discussions were more than casual—­that we had created, without knowing it, a very unusual book club, one with only two members. As in many book clubs, our conversations bounced around between the characters’ lives and our own. Sometimes we discussed a book in depth; other times we found ourselves in a conversation that had little to do with the book or the author who had sparked it.

   I wanted to learn more about my mother’s life and the choices she’d made, so I often steered the conversation there. She had an agenda of her own, as she almost always did. It took me some time, and some help, to figure it out.

   Over the course of Mom’s illness, before and after Crossing to Safety, Mom and I read dozens of books of all different kinds. We didn’t read only “great books,” we read casually and promiscuously and whimsically. (As I said, my mother was thrifty; if you gave her a book, she would read it.) We didn’t always read the same books at the same time; nor did we meet over meals, nor on specific days, nor a set number of times per month. But we were forced to keep coming back to that waiting room as Mom’s health got worse and worse. And we talked about books just as often as we talked about anything.

   My mother was a fast reader. Oh, and one other thing I should mention. She always read the end of a book first because she couldn’t wait to find out how things would turn out. I realized, when I started writing this book, that, in a way, she’d already read the end of it—­when you have pancreatic cancer that’s diagnosed after it’s spread, there isn’t likely to be a surprise ending. You can be fairly certain of what fate has in store.

   You could say that the book club became our life, but it would be more accurate to say that our life became a book club. Maybe it had always been one—­and it took Mom’s illness to make us realize that. We didn’t talk much about the club. We talked about the books, and we talked about our lives.

   We all have a lot more to read than we can read and a lot more to do than we can do. Still, one of the things I learned from Mom is this: Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother’s favorite books without thinking of her—­and when I pass them on and recommend them, I’ll know that some of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own version of what she did in the world.

   But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning, or rather the beginning of the end, to before Mom’s diagnosis, when she started to get sick and we didn’t know why.

Appointment in Samarra

   Mom and I loved opening lines of novels. “The small boys came early to the hanging” was one of our favorites, from Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth. How could you not go on reading? And the first sentence of John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany: “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice—not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death, but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.” And E. M. Forster’s first line in Howard’s End: “One may as well begin with Helen’s letters to her sister.” It’s the “may as well” that draws you in—casual, chatty even, yet it gives the reader a strong sense that there’s a lot of story to come.

   Some novelists start with opening lines that foretell the major action of the book; some begin with hints; others with words that simply set a scene or describe a character, showing the reader a world before a deluge—with no hint as to what is to come. What never needs to be written is: “Little did she know her life was about to change forever.” Many authors adopt something like this when they want to create suspense. The truth is that people never realize their lives are about to change in unforeseen ways—that’s just the nature of unforeseen ways.

   We were no different.

   The year 2007 had begun with Mom and Dad spending some weeks in Vero Beach, Florida, a place Mom discovered late in life and loved. I remember now with some guilt repeating to her a line I’d heard ... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition CD .

Revue de presse

Will Schwalbe gives us two love stories in one: That of his relationship with his dynamo of a mother as her horizons shrink, and that of their mutual devotion to the printed word, infinitely and insistently engaging. Tender and touching and beautifully done. (Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Cleopatra)

I was so moved by this marvellous book. Schwalbe has done something extraordinary: made a personal journey public in the most engaging, funny and revealing way possible. It is a true meditation on what books can do. (Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes)

A perfect book-club book about books and the community they create that also portrays the love between mother and son. (Library Journal)

Will Schwalbe's brave and soulful elegy to his remarkable mother, his recollection of their sparklingly literate conversations, is a timely reminder that one exceptional person, or one exceptional book, can be a torch in the darkness. You'll turn the last page wishing you'd met Mary Anne Schwalbe, vowing to be worthy of her incandescent example - and promising yourself to read more. (J. R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar)

At last a book that celebrates the role books play within our own story. Will Schwalbe has created a tender, moving and honest portrayal of the precious relationship between a mother and son - an ode to that beautiful thing called love. (Cecilia Ahern, author of PS, I Love You)

A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them. Like the printed volumes it celebrates, this story will stay with you long after the last page. (Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Time Keeper)

an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work. (Publishers Weekly starred review)

An extraordinarily wise, witty, and quietly wrenching book about parental love, filial love, profound grief, and literature's great consolations. How wonderful to encounter a writer who combines erudition with great emotional honesty, and who isn't afraid of addressing life's most profound and baffling questions. (Douglas Kennedy, author of Leaving the World and The Pursuit of Happiness)

a moving and inspiring story (Choice Magazine)

This touching and insightful memoir about the slow process of dying will appeal to readers of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Last Lecture, but also to people who love delving into books and book discussions. Like Mary Anne, who reads the ending first, you know how this book is going to end, but while it is a story about death, it is mostly a celebration of life and of the way books can enrich it. (Booklist (starred review))

What self-respecting reader isn't a sucker for a great book about other great books? The End of Your Life Book Club is that much and more. (BookPage)

a graceful, affecting testament to a mother and a life well lived. (Entertainment Weekly)

Literature bridges generations in Will Schwalbe's thoughtful tribute to his late mother (

a tribute to a remarkable woman and an exemplary reader. (Salon)

A truly poignant read . . . a moving tribute to a wonderful-sounding mum and the power of fiction. (Good Housekeeping)

It helps of course if you are a book lover and can relate to the passion for reading, but even prolific readers will find that the book teaches them not only about life and death but about the power of a really good book to move you and peel off the onion skin layers of "what you already know" and reveal truths. (Curious Book Fans)

a life-enhancing celebration of the power of books and reading, very much in the vein of Tuesdays with Morrie (Independent)

Détails sur le produit

  • Broché: 352 pages
  • Editeur : Two Roads (6 juin 2013)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1444706381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444706383
  • Dimensions du produit: 19,9 x 12,9 x 2,3 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 57.975 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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4.0 étoiles sur 5
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Commentaires client les plus utiles
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 End of your life Book Club book 15 mars 2013
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I must say I that one of my dear friends recommended this book to me which I why I purchased it without even reading any reviews of it. I was expecting a 5 / 5, but it was missing the part that everyday people like me, and maybe you, could relate to. It did give you some good ideas of books to read, it did tell a real story about a mother and her son at the end of her life, when they both real alot while waiting at the Dr's office, etc. and discussed the books they were reading, but somehow I was expecting this to be a more "everyman's" book, and was disappointed here.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 High recommendations 8 août 2013
Par Sarah A.
Deeply moving - I recommend this book to bibliophiles, those working for world literacy or with refugees or have a terminally ill loved one. Definitely struck a bell with me that talking about a book - or thru a book's theme - is easier than dealing with certain issues which are very difficult. The final message which fired my enthusiasm is the lasting change the author's mother made in countless people's life.
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Good potential but not an unforgettable book 28 juillet 2013
Par Giovanni
The book is a chronicle of the last two years of life of the author's mother, Marie Anne Schwelbe, marked by her fight against an incurable pancreatic cancer.
The story is woven through the books mother and son decide to read together during this period, forming an uncommon two-people book club.
The spark is definitely captivating, specially for all the other bookworms out there, and Marie Anne's death definitely needs respect.
Nevertheless, the result is discontinuous, literary speaking. In some chapters, the book presented and Marie Anne's life seem really to merge, with each of them enlightening the other. In many others, the books mentioned stay out of the story and mother and son's conversations about them are easy to forget.
Marie Anne's portrait is without shadows: self-oblivious, always ready to minimize the multiple inconveniences of her cancer, always attentive to the people around her and willing to do something for them and for the "big causes" she supports (e.g. her activities as a member of the Women's Refugee Commission). We almost do not have any insight in her deep personal struggle against the disease.
Overall, the book is pleasant to read, specially if you have already read many of the books mentioned (there is a list of all of them at the end of the book, so you may check): you will gain the pleasure to meet again some old friends. At the same time it is not a memorable book. I think it would have benefited from being much shorter.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  1.162 commentaires
333 internautes sur 342 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Beautiful Tribute to an Amazing Mother 28 juillet 2012
Par Tina Says - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This latest Amazon Vine read had me totally engrossed from its very beginning. Will Schwalbe's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer - Stage IV cancer that originated in the pancreas and metastasized. While juggling chemo treatments she continues to lead an active life, rarely slowing down for the side effects of her treatment. Although the Schwalbe family was always a family of readers, it is the time Will and his mother spend together as she receives treatment that the two talk about books they read in the past as well as titles they agreed to now read together.
This is one of those books that made me want to highlight important points and be sure to make note of some aspects as I read. One of those is that although this book is about the books that Will and his mother read, it is also a memoir of sorts. Will's mother, Mary Ann, was an amazing woman. She worked outside the home before many other mothers did so and was a great fundraiser and humanitarian. Her most recent quest was building a library in Afghanistan. She was well traveled, volunteering in many dangerous locations, not afraid to get her hands dirty. The pride Will feels for his mother is evident, and I was also amazed by this woman's accomplishments.
Although I haven't read more than a few of the books that Schwalbe and his mother read and discuss, that did not detract from the pleasure of reading this book. If anything, it has caused me to add a few more titles to my ever-growing list.
Before you begin reading, it is evident that this will not be a happily ever after ending. Yet, The End of Your Life Book Club is not really a sad story. Will Schwalbe is able to show readers the impact of his mother's life. He was also able to show the real and lasting impact her reading had on her and her children and grandchildren. This is a beautiful tribute to the remarkable Mary Ann Schwalbe.
178 internautes sur 188 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 WONDERFUL! 24 août 2012
Par Chel Micheline - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I usually avoid sad books like the plague- I'm a fairly sensitive person so I try to read things that won't devastate me and I despise authors that use difficult situations to either "sell" a story of manipulate the reader. However, I'm a huge huge fan of "project" books, and I love reading, so I figured I'd give "The End of Your Life Book Club" a try and stop reading if it got to be too much.

I honestly couldn't put it down- it's a really wonderful book.

The backstory is this: Will Schwalbe's mom, Mary, is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which (as the doctor says) is "treatable but not curable". Will vows to be as supportive to his mom as he can. But Mary isn't your typical middle-aged woman- this is a woman who has been on the frontlines of some of the most volatile areas on the earth, championing human rights, education, and literacy. She's also a sort of buttoned-up and reserved soul, not one to expound much on her feelings or emotions. She faces her illness with sort of a brisk honesty.

Will realizes that the best way he can support his mom, engage her, and open up the lines of communication is to share in one of Mary's passions- books. Will is a editor at a major publishing company, so he's quite a fan of books, as well.

So he and Mary begin sharing books, and every time the two see each other, they discuss the books they read. In the process, Mary begins to reveal more and more about not only her vast experiences, but also her emotions and her fears.

I've read quite a few "book project" books and many of them come across as an giant compiled Cliff's Notes of books that are read. Will Schwalbe handles the descriptions of the books wonderfully- he gives a brief description of the book, but instead of delving into the ins and outs of the books, he discusses *why* the particular book was relevant to both himself and his mom.

So while "The End of Your Life Book Club" is about books, it's really the story of Mary's life, Will's observations of his mother, and also the story of a mother and son sort of recommitting to their relationship through a shared passion.

I wish I could articulate just how wonderful this book is. It's just lovely. Yes, there is some sadness, but it's not "drawn out" or used for narrative kick. It's just honest and pure and the story comes from the heart without being trite or sentimental. I highly recommend it- it's easily one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.
146 internautes sur 157 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Journey of Death and Reading 28 juillet 2012
Par Patricia - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
This book had me at the title: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Anything about reading books or about dying gets my attention - and this titled combined them! Be forewarned - this book is likely to cost you quite a bit of money. Not because of the price of the book but because you will pick up at least 8 to 10 "can't live without it" titles in it that you will HAVE to buy.

Often books about lists of books disappoint me but this one was definitely worth it. The author works in publishing, media and writing, so he knows books and literature. His mother, whom he adores, is dying of pancreatic cancer. She too was a voracious reader. They always exchanged books but in her illness they form a secret book club of two to discuss what they are reading during the long chemo sessions (he goes to most with her). Rest assured, she is not just some little wimp of a woman with cancer - she has a powerful resume: well educated, a working mother all her married life, was dean of admissions for Harvard and Radcliff, directed a number of exclusive schools and did massive (and I mean massive) humanitarian work. She lived in many places (London, Paris) and travelled the world for her causes: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa - lived in dangerous places to do her work. She was part of the founding of the IRC - International Rescue Committee (a favorite charity of mine), was shot at, starved, got all sorts of diseases from her travels but she was a survivor. Her final work was building a library with mobile units in Afghanistan. She travelled all over the US raising money and she worked on this project almost to her dying breath. And she raised a big family. And through all of this she read voraciously. The son, Will, finds it awkward to talk about emotional issues, as does his mother, so they do it through books. And what books - they seem to read everything and then share their insightful and profound discussions with us. She is a powerful, gracious woman and it is touching to watch her fade through the eyes of her broken-hearted son.

This is unbearably painful for him. He is obviously caring and gifted in many ways, and also tortured. He is plagued by insomnia and does much of his reading in the middle of the night - I don't know how he keeps going with so little sleep. And he is anxious about so many things in general, so this tragedy of his mother's illness hits him particularly hard. Fortunately they are both part of a big, warm family and that carries them through the whole way.

If you are a reader, I highly recommend this book - their combined insights are treasures that will keep you reflecting for a long time. Mary Anne Schwalbe was an amazing woman and we are blessed indeed that her son has shared her with us.
58 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Ummm.. 12 mars 2013
Par Donna - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
I really wanted to love this book, but....the best I can say is that I finished it. I love books, I read ALL the time, but, Will, if I was in your book club discussing this book, here is what I would say: I had a very difficult time relating to the characters who really seemed preoccupied with their Ivy League educations, their status, their accomplishments, and their "well known friends." For Mary Anne to say to Will, "if you don't like your job, just quit. You are lucky to have the means to do that," tells me a lot about the values of this family.
Yes, I admire Mary Anne's many accomplishments, but why did I get the feeling that Will was somewhat intimidated by his mother? Why did I feel annoyed with her controlling ways over her family and everybody else? Why did I feel shades of martyrdom and passive-aggressiveness in her interactions with her family and others?
Ah, me. So many five star reviews for this book. I ALMOST feel guilty writing this review. But I felt somewhat annoyed the whole way through. Maybe you have to know them to love them, but the author didn't make me love this family, or even like them very much.

16 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I was deeply touched by Will's writing and believe that readers of this book will be as well 16 octobre 2012
Par Bookreporter - Publié sur
THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB is several books in one. It is the memoir of an adult son, and a biography of his aging and terminally ill mother. It is also an unofficial guidebook on how to live well and die well, and a book that celebrates the written word.

The author, Will Schwalbe, grew up in a home where books were loved and appreciated. His mother read bedtime stories to all three children, a different story for each child. Both Mary Anne and her husband were avid readers, and they surrounded their offspring with books. It comes as no surprise, then, that Will spent over 20 years in the publishing industry. As the book begins, Mary Anne has been diagnosed recently with a stubborn form of hepatitis, but her symptoms, which mimic hepatitis, instead turn out to be advanced pancreatic cancer. The family is informed that the cancer is treatable but not curable. In other words, terminal. This unwelcome news is obviously difficult for everyone to absorb. The future quickly becomes a hazy question mark, full of worries and uncertainties, as the Schwalbe family adjusts to their new normal.

Mary Anne begins receiving outpatient chemotherapy at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Now she is spending hours upon hours attached to an IV drip as the toxic chemicals slowly enter her body. The doctors have promised that the chemotherapy will buy her some time, though how much time is uncertain. Will often accompanies Mary Anne to her lengthy and tiresome chemotherapy appointments, and a natural question --- What are you reading? --- becomes a source of poignant conversations between Will and Mary Anne.

Although the coffee and hot chocolate in the vending machine are unappealing, mother and son quickly learn that by selecting the mocha button, the resultant combination of both beverages makes a delicious drink; mocha becomes the beverage of choice for the pair. Soon Mary Anne and Will are swapping books and having lengthy philosophical conversations about recent reads. Mary Anne has a reading quirk. She always reads the ending of a book first because she cannot wait to learn what happens. Will can discuss any book that Mary Anne has not yet read without spoiling the ending because he knows she will read the ending first anyway. Through book discussions, they broach topics that might be too personal or painful otherwise. After reading THE ETIQUETTE OF ILLNESS: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words, by Susan Halpern, Will learns when to ask "How are you feeling?" and when to ask instead "Do you want me to ask you how you're feeling?"

After Mary Anne's diagnosis, her new mantra becomes: Make plans and cancel them. She does some traveling overseas while she is still able and spends hours on the phone and at meetings trying to arrange funding for a library in Kabul. She attends family dinners and continues to visit art museums and go to concerts whenever she can. Always in the back of her mind is the possibility that she might not feel well enough to participate in an event, but her strong will and determination keep her going, amazing and encouraging her family.

Although readers of THE LAST LECTURE may find some similarities to THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, Will's book provides an in-depth look at a loving family supporting their beloved Mary Anne, a son's deep affection and abiding respect for his mother, and an appreciation for all things literary. I was deeply touched by Will's writing and believe that readers of this book will be as well.

Reviewed by Carole Turner
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