You know from the beginning that Will Schwalbe’s mother, Mary Anne, is dead. Pancreatic cancer. And you know from the beginning that books have played a major part of Will’s life (he’s the former senior vice president and editor in chief of Hyperion Books). And you know from the beginning that discussing books that each read is how Mary Anne and Will spent much of their lives, but never as intensely as they did before (in waiting rooms, mostly) and during (when she was well enough) Mary Anne’s chemotherapy treatments.
(You also know from the beginning that Will’s family, though very present after Mary Anne is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, will not play a major role in this memoir, as their stories, Will says, belongs to them and are not his to tell.)