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Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

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A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery. In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world”. She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue he A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery. In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world”. She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of conflict zone. It started with an itch—first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Just like that, the life she had imagined for herself had gone up in flames. By the time Jaouad flew home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times. When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after three and a half years of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live. How would she reenter the world and live again? How could she reclaim what had been lost? Jaouad embarked—with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. She set out to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital: a teenage girl in Florida also recovering from cancer; a teacher in California grieving the death of her son; a death-row inmate in Texas who’d spent his own years confined to a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound chronicle of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.


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A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery. In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world”. She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue he A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission and, ultimately, a road trip of healing and self-discovery. In the summer after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was preparing, as they say in commencement speeches, to enter “the real world”. She had fallen in love and moved to Paris to pursue her dream of becoming a war correspondent. The real world she found, however, would take her into a very different kind of conflict zone. It started with an itch—first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites. Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip to the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival. Just like that, the life she had imagined for herself had gone up in flames. By the time Jaouad flew home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times. When Jaouad finally walked out of the cancer ward—after three and a half years of chemo, a clinical trial, and a bone marrow transplant—she was, according to the doctors, cured. But as she would soon learn, a cure is not where the work of healing ends; it’s where it begins. She had spent the past 1,500 days in desperate pursuit of one goal—to survive. And now that she’d done so, she realized that she had no idea how to live. How would she reenter the world and live again? How could she reclaim what had been lost? Jaouad embarked—with her new best friend, Oscar, a scruffy terrier mutt—on a 100-day, 15,000-mile road trip across the country. She set out to meet some of the strangers who had written to her during her years in the hospital: a teenage girl in Florida also recovering from cancer; a teacher in California grieving the death of her son; a death-row inmate in Texas who’d spent his own years confined to a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between sick and well is porous, that the vast majority of us will travel back and forth between these realms throughout our lives. Between Two Kingdoms is a profound chronicle of survivorship and a fierce, tender, and inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.

30 review for Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook... read beautifully by the author, Suleika Jaquad An amazing story of triumph.... ....harrowing... ....loving... ....heartbreaking... ....a book that makes a difference by a woman whose contribution to others is huge... ....a GIGANTIC gift to me!!! ....articulately written with emotional truth!!! Honestly... ....I never expected to be affected as hard as I was. My close friend’s son died of myeloid leukemia... a year after he had married - at age 32. I know dozens and dozens of people who ha Audiobook... read beautifully by the author, Suleika Jaquad An amazing story of triumph.... ....harrowing... ....loving... ....heartbreaking... ....a book that makes a difference by a woman whose contribution to others is huge... ....a GIGANTIC gift to me!!! ....articulately written with emotional truth!!! Honestly... ....I never expected to be affected as hard as I was. My close friend’s son died of myeloid leukemia... a year after he had married - at age 32. I know dozens and dozens of people who have had cancer… Many have died. Many have lived. So... I just didn’t expect to be THIS SHAKEN - MOVED - INSPIRED.... I was wrong ... I was all these things. I found everything about this book valuable... worthy of reading... ... including having to reflect on things in my own life. People who are sick might have a hard time reading this memoir. Healthy people may also have a hard time reading it..... and as hard as it was I couldn’t put it down. Details are explicit, graphic. But also real. Suleika’s (gorgeous name), extraordinary story of pain, perseverance, and hope.... gripped me to the core... shredded my guts... I cried a half dozen times... Crying while hiking hilly trails is risky business— I felt like I was going to hyperventilate once - as holding ‘back’ the tears wasn’t easy either. Parts of this book scared the shit out of me... But it would take pages to explain why. Other parts— about her relationship with Will, her mom, dad, friends, were compelling. Mostly ... I just want to say that on a personal level I’ve fallen in love with this young wonderful woman — One of the happiest moments for me in this memoir was just before Suleika needed another chemo therapy treatment.... her immune system was still weak, but she was better and strong enough to have a dog..... Only once did Suleika play ‘the cancer card’... it was when she desperately wanted a little runt.... whom she named Oscar. Geee.... I cried when moments were happy too!!! I even cried when Oscar went pee pee on the rug of Suleika’s house. My god... it’s true that dogs are great healing medicine. Suleika had a friend who was in the hospital at the same time when she was. The other sick cancer patients became her friends. One day he gave Suleika a bracelet that said: “I’m such a big fan of you”. Me, too.... “I’m such a big fan of you, Suleika!!!”

  2. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    3.5 stars, rounded up I had to pysch myself up to read this. Right now, depressing stories are hard to take on top of real life. Suleika is 22 years old when she’s diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. All of a sudden, her tiredness and mouth sores aren’t just a case of anemia. It was scary to realize how many decisions had to be made in such a short time amount of time, like fertility issues, experimental trials. It’s a dark, at times tortuous story and I will admit to having to skim certain s 3.5 stars, rounded up I had to pysch myself up to read this. Right now, depressing stories are hard to take on top of real life. Suleika is 22 years old when she’s diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. All of a sudden, her tiredness and mouth sores aren’t just a case of anemia. It was scary to realize how many decisions had to be made in such a short time amount of time, like fertility issues, experimental trials. It’s a dark, at times tortuous story and I will admit to having to skim certain sections just to get through them. I had to keep reminding myself that the story obviously has a happy ending as she lived to write the memoir. The book reminds us of the importance of being surrounded by a caring community. Not just her family, but a relatively new boyfriend. How many people would have put their life so totally on hold like Will for even a week let alone much longer? It’s also a reminder of how utterly draining dealing with cancer can be, for all concerned. This is a brutally honest account of everything Sulieka dealt with - her emotions ranged all over the map, as you would expect. When a social worker asks her to consider a 100 Day Project, she returns to writing. This provides the outlet she needs, first through her blog and then a column for The NY Times. Sulieka truly has a gift for writing. “My cancer was a junkyard dog. It may have been fenced for now, but it was mean and growling, threatening to dig under the barbed wire and escape.” The title refers to a quote from Susan Sontag about holding dual citizenship in the land of the well and of the sick. The second half of the book discusses how she moves on from being a cancer patient, the search to find her new identity. I found this half of the book much more interesting and new. She discusses her need to move beyond the fear. She revisits folks she met on her cancer journey. It's obviously a much more uplifting tale. My thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    "You will never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. " - Bob Marley Right after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was ready to take on the world. She had moved to Paris and to purse her dream of becoming a war correspondence. Life would set her up for a different kind of battle. She began to itch. Not the little itch that we all experience from time to time but a drawn out annoying one that had her waking each day to find scratch marks on her body. It "You will never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. " - Bob Marley Right after graduating from college, Suleika Jaouad was ready to take on the world. She had moved to Paris and to purse her dream of becoming a war correspondence. Life would set her up for a different kind of battle. She began to itch. Not the little itch that we all experience from time to time but a drawn out annoying one that had her waking each day to find scratch marks on her body. It was persistent and did not go away. Then fatigue set in. After many doctor appointments, and right before her twenty third birthday, she was diagnosed with Leukemia with a 35 percent chance of survival. "Until death, it is all life. " - Miguel de Cervantes Life had changed on a dime. She moved back in with her parents, lost her job, her apartment and her ability to freely live her life. She would be in and out of the hospital, facing treatments, exhaustion, fighting for her life all the while chronicling her experiences and illness in the New York Times. She had many who were there for her as support throughout her long battle which altered her dreams, her relationships and her life goals. Cancer not only took a toll on her body, but on her outlook but also on those in her life. She mentions in the book that "Cancer is greedy." It ravaged everything and left her to rebuild again. "Death never comes at a good time..." When she was declared "cured" what would life look like for her? How do you move forward when those you have met and bonded with are gone? How does such a life altering illness effect your relationship? I always find it out and often difficult to rate a memoir as I do not want to rate that person’s life and experiences but do want to rate the level of writing and my ability to relate to or learn something from their memoir. Her writing is beautiful, and I am awed by her bravery in sharing just how the cancer ravaged her body. She does not shy away from sharing the details. Obviously, we know she survives and even thought her career goals changed, she continues to write and wrote an Emmy award winning column titled "Life Interrupted." Her wok has been featured in magazines and she has created Isolation Journals. She may not be a war correspondent, but she has made an impact in journalism. This is a moving, thought provoking and powerful memoir. Thank you to Random House and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. See more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  4. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    Omg!! Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for giving me a digital copy of this book BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.... Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 Omg!! Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for giving me a digital copy of this book BLOG: https://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.... Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    *Some of the scenes depicted of Suleika's sufferings were quite graphic* Some say the world is your oyster and for Suleika Jaourd that seemed to be her future. Recent college grad, moving to Paris and a new boyfriend make for a life that seems to be unfolding before her. Then Suleika is bothered by itchiness that drove her crazy. Next came exhaustion that even six hour naps couldn't quell. A trip to the doctor confirmed this was something awful, leukemia with the chances of survival placed at 35% *Some of the scenes depicted of Suleika's sufferings were quite graphic* Some say the world is your oyster and for Suleika Jaourd that seemed to be her future. Recent college grad, moving to Paris and a new boyfriend make for a life that seems to be unfolding before her. Then Suleika is bothered by itchiness that drove her crazy. Next came exhaustion that even six hour naps couldn't quell. A trip to the doctor confirmed this was something awful, leukemia with the chances of survival placed at 35%. The world that was bright, sunny, and destined to be wonderful, turned into one of a nightmare with three and a half years of chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. She survived with the help of family, friends, and her devoted boyfriend, but it did cost her greatly. The doctors said she was cured, but along the way she lost so much, her job, her life in Paris, her life with her devoted boyfriend, and many of the friends she had made while undergoing treatments. She suffered greatly not only from the pain of the cancer, but also the many ways her young life had turned to days of vomiting, losing her hair, exhaustion, and the many horrors of this disease. However, Sulieka survived. She began writing a column for the NY Times, and that gave her a purpose during the life threatening times she endured. Through her writing and a blog she met many people who had lost someone, or was suffering from a deadly illness. She connected with many of them and later on in an attempt to find her way after all she had been through in a one hundred day journey across country with her dog as her sole companion,she met face to face with some of them. Sulieka felt these people enriched her life and gave it a meaning she didn't think she could recapture. But recapture she did and she began once again on that journey called life. She found that she and others, really all of us, live between two kingdoms as we survive the ills of our lives and learn to begin once again. Thank you to Suleika Jaourd, Random House, and NetGalley for a copy of the memoir due out February 9, 2021.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Absolutely beautiful. Check out my review on Booktube! Absolutely beautiful. Check out my review on Booktube!

  7. 4 out of 5

    *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    Four Stars Suleika Jaouad had just graduated college when she was diagnosed with leukemia. As the book begins she is ready to take on the world, bravely embarking on a new job in Paris. To her utter surprise, new boyfriend Will decides to come join her. Everything is going well except nagging in the background, this tantalizing itch that would start up her feet and move up her body. Then there was the weakness that prompted Suleika to take hours long naps. She was almost 23 when she finally recei Four Stars Suleika Jaouad had just graduated college when she was diagnosed with leukemia. As the book begins she is ready to take on the world, bravely embarking on a new job in Paris. To her utter surprise, new boyfriend Will decides to come join her. Everything is going well except nagging in the background, this tantalizing itch that would start up her feet and move up her body. Then there was the weakness that prompted Suleika to take hours long naps. She was almost 23 when she finally received the diagnosis of leukemia, for which there was a 35% chance of recovery. She returned home to New York and her parents to focus on treatment. Then Will gave up everything and also returned from Paris, to live in Suleika's parents' house and become her primary caregiver. The first part of the book where Suleika was fighting cancer, mostly in the hospital, was the most interesting and engaging to me. I guess you would call this the "1st kingdom" of the book. Suleika's brother essentially saved her life by providing his bone marrow. Even so, it would take time to know if the process was successful and there could be pitfalls along the way. Suleika would get disappointed when she found out that more chemotherapy treatments would be necessary after the bone marrow transplant to ensure the best odds of beating the cancer. She and Will took up residence in her parent's empty small apartment in the village where Will was her sole caregiver, even while working a full-time job. I found his dedication truly inspirational and could sympathise from personal experience with the strain such an arrangement causes. The "2nd kingdom" of the book is after Suleika recovers from cancer. One would think after the intense, life and death struggle she's endured that making it to "the other side" would be all joy. To her surprise, she's experiencing a whole spectrum of feelings to work through that she never expected. It's as if she's another person now, and needs to find herself. While a patient in Sloan Kettering, she wrote articles about her real-time experience fighting cancer that was published as a recurring feature in the New York Times. Her resultant notoriety sparked a correspondence with other cancer warriors across the country. In a cathartic exercise, she embarked on a 100-day 15,000 mile car ride across the country to visit some of these people whom she had become close pen pals with. Being a New Yorker who relied on subways and taxis, she had only recently learned to drive. But a friend lent her his trusty Suburu and this too became a new rite of passage, learning to navigate the roads. So she packed up her dog Oscar and began her journey. Like I alluded to earlier, I found her cancer fight in the hospital the most riveting to read. I was interested in the doctors, treatments, symptoms, etc. I also enjoyed reading about the hospital environment itself- like the other patients she encountered and the floors of the hospital she found most comforting. Suleika made close hospital friends and lost most of them to cancer along the way. This realm of the book hits you where you live, which is why I found it such an intense and moving read. I became a bit detached towards the end of the book when Suleika took her cross country trek. When she expounded on each family or person she visited, if it got too detailed I wasn't as interested. However, Suleika writes extremely well and overall this culminates in a high quality read. Thank you to the publisher Random House for providing an advance reader copy via NetGalley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    jenny✨

    02/09/2021: HAPPY PUB DAY! So excited to have this out in the world. I decided to reimagine my survival as a creative act. A book such as this one deserves no less than 5 stars. Grit, jubilance, pain, terror, ingenuity, heartbreak, and resilience—all are conveyed through Suleika Jaouad’s vibrant, compelling prose. This memoir delves into some of the heaviest topics a person will ever grapple with in their life, and then some. When Suleika Jaouad was twenty-two, she began experiencing inexplicab 02/09/2021: HAPPY PUB DAY! So excited to have this out in the world. I decided to reimagine my survival as a creative act. A book such as this one deserves no less than 5 stars. Grit, jubilance, pain, terror, ingenuity, heartbreak, and resilience—all are conveyed through Suleika Jaouad’s vibrant, compelling prose. This memoir delves into some of the heaviest topics a person will ever grapple with in their life, and then some. When Suleika Jaouad was twenty-two, she began experiencing inexplicable symptoms. It started as an itchiness that spreads throughout her entire body, then morphed into bone-deep fatigue. Sores erupted in her mouth; she lost weight as quickly as she lost the motivation to attend her job as a paralegal in Paris. When the diagnosis arrived—a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia—Jaouad’s life was entirely, irrevocably derailed. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick,” Susan Sontag wrote in Illness as Metaphor. “Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” In the subsequent years, she undergoes numerous bouts of chemotherapy that ravage her as much as the cancer, seeping into every aspect of her life: her body; her relationships with friends, partners, and family; her once boundless aspirations to become a writer or foreign correspondent; her understanding of grief, mortality, and what it means to be present. She eventually embarks on a 100-day road trip across the U.S. to visit several key individuals who supported her throughout the seemingly insurmountable trials and years of being a cancer patient. The tangling of so much cruelty and beauty has made of my life a strange, discordant landscape. It has left me with an awareness that haunts the edges of my vision—it can all be lost in a moment—but it’s also given me a jeweler’s eye. Jaouad’s narrative voice hits all the right notes to keep you reading. In fact, the resonance of her words is such that I promise there is something to ensnare every reader, regardless of who you are. You do not have to be a young adult battling cancer, a child of immigrants, a woman with incredible grit, to understand, empathize, or find meaning. Importantly, this resonance does not, as Jaouad writes, “reduc[e] your suffering to sameness.” As a person with a chronic health condition, I understood her frustrations with the medical system, the ways in which they failed her—neglecting to tell her that chemo might leave her infertile, for example. As a reader, I was utterly drawn into her storytelling, which invites us to be braver and more imaginative than ever before without ever requiring us to “find the silver lining.” And as an aspiring 23yo writer, I loved reading how she, an unpublished 23yo, pitched and was granted a weekly column with The New York Times; Cancer had made me brazen, she writes. The accompanying video series that she proposed and filmed for this column went on to win an Emmy. To learn to swim in the ocean of not-knowing—this is my constant work. Bottom line: Within these pages, I was simultaneously filled with Jaouad’s fear and her fire. Between Two Kingdoms is not only marvellous storytelling, it is also one woman’s struggle to make sense of a world that seems impossibly, devastatingly uncertain—and in the process, pares humanity down to its most compelling and compassionate core. Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Metcalf

    Between Two Kingdoms is the fabulously well written memoir of Suleika Jaouad.  Some readers may recognise her name from her Life, Interrupted column which was syndicated in numerous newspapers and magazines across America. This was a captivating book, both devastating and uplifting in equal measures.    Devastating because it tells of her cancer diagnosis at just 22 years of age, of the toll this disease took not just on her life but on the lives of her family, friends and the ways it negatively Between Two Kingdoms is the fabulously well written memoir of Suleika Jaouad.  Some readers may recognise her name from her Life, Interrupted column which was syndicated in numerous newspapers and magazines across America. This was a captivating book, both devastating and uplifting in equal measures.    Devastating because it tells of her cancer diagnosis at just 22 years of age, of the toll this disease took not just on her life but on the lives of her family, friends and the ways it negatively impacted a beautiful relationship.   Uplifting because despite all of those things she was a survivor struggling to pick up where life left off.   When she was beginning to succumb to depression she instead dusted herself off and regained control of her life and took steps to actively re-engage in life and to live it in a more positive manner. There are not too many people whose lives are untouched in some way by cancer.  Not necessarily themselves but perhaps a work colleague, friend or family member.   It's a torturous ordeal for the patient and stressful for loved ones.    Suleika's story makes that blindingly obvious and highly relateable.   The suffering is not only physical though that's dreadful enough.   It's also pyschologically damaging, particularly when you're only 22 and continuously having near death experiences.    Suleika speaks openly and eloquently about her sense of loss, her resentment and the envy she felt towards those still living their lives and moving forward.  She writes of anger, of pain and of fear.     She admits to huge bouts of guilt at the financial burden she placed upon her parents on one hand and the pressure upon her brother to become a bone marrow donor on the other.  She made clear just how sad it was to make beautiful new friendships with other young cancer patients only to lose them and to then have to arrange their memorials. Each one of those factors made it hard to read Suleika's story.   Possibly even more than all of those things I was saddened about the way the disease wreaked havoc on the beautiful relationship between Suleika and her boyfriend Will.   Suleika wrote with honesty and tenderness about the way Will took on the carer role and the sacrifices he made in his own life, the toll it took on him personally and professionally, and eventually the ways and reasons their relationship failed.   Though she was resentful and had clearly been angry, she eventually worked through her feelings and though she still loved him she was adult enough to acknowledge the ways she had been responsible for the ultimate failure of that relationship.   Her book had the feel of an ode to Will wrapped in an apology of sorts. Post disease, not only was Suleika a new person in the sense of her changed DNA (thanks to her bone marrow transplant) but she needed to make a new life for herself, to figure out who she was now, what was important to her and how she could live within the physical limitations of her body.   Instead of remaining mired in the difficulties of living, of dwelling on how life was not what she hoped and planned it to be, now that she had technically survived, Suleika forced herself to make some changes.    In this spirit she embarked upon a 100 day roadtrip taking in 33 states meeting up with twenty of the people (strangers) whose words and thoughts helped sustain her during her cancer battle.   This was inspiring and showed the true grit Suleika had demonstrated throughout her illness.    I cannot be more thankful to Jess from Penguin Random House for the invitation to read this tremendously moving memoir.    Thank you too to NetGalley for making this possible.  Finally my congratulations and thanks to Suleika for sharing her inspiring story. I wish her every happiness for her future and decades of good health to follow.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad is a memoir about a woman’s cancer journey from diagnosis through life cancer free. Jaouad does a great job taking the reader through her cancer journey. Between Two Kingdom is the perfect mix of informative and emotional. Jaouad discusses everything she went through as well how cancer and her actions affected her loved ones. She was very open and honest. Jaouad wasn’t afraid to say things she messed up and how she should’ve done something differently. Sule Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad is a memoir about a woman’s cancer journey from diagnosis through life cancer free. Jaouad does a great job taking the reader through her cancer journey. Between Two Kingdom is the perfect mix of informative and emotional. Jaouad discusses everything she went through as well how cancer and her actions affected her loved ones. She was very open and honest. Jaouad wasn’t afraid to say things she messed up and how she should’ve done something differently. Suleika was graduating from college when she was diagnosed. The life she was planning to live changed into a life based around treatment without being able to work. Suleika has to find hobbies to fill her time that she is able to do while sick and tired from chemo. This is what got her into writing. Suleika is a strong woman and it is empowering to read her journey. Learning about Suleika’s cancer journey was very interesting but my favorite part of the book was her describing entering back into a cancer free world. I feel like this is something that isn’t discussed and is something I never would’ve thought of. Suleika goes on a roadtrip meeting other survivors and discusses their experiences. I highly recommend Between Two Kingdoms for anyone that is interested in learning about a strong woman’s cancer journey and learning to live without cancer. Thank you Random House and NetGalley for Between Two Kingdoms. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kylie H

    The title of this book comes from a book by Susan Sontag that describes everyone as having dual citizenship in both the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. This book details a young woman's time in both kingdoms, each as equally hard to leave and enter as the other. Suleika Jaouad is diagnosed with a rare from of leukaemia in her early twenties. Her world soon revolves around appointments, treatments and hospital wards.. Her social life is with her treating team and co-patients as we The title of this book comes from a book by Susan Sontag that describes everyone as having dual citizenship in both the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. This book details a young woman's time in both kingdoms, each as equally hard to leave and enter as the other. Suleika Jaouad is diagnosed with a rare from of leukaemia in her early twenties. Her world soon revolves around appointments, treatments and hospital wards.. Her social life is with her treating team and co-patients as well as her boyfriend Will who finds himself in a carer role and her parents who are beside themselves with worry. Suleika endures a treatment that is not guaranteed to cure her and she is forced to face her own mortality. While coming to grips with all of this she is grieving for her fellow patients who succumb to their cancers. On the flip side having survived her treatment she finds the journey back to the kingdom of the well just as overwhelming and difficult to face. She is no longer the same person, and she goes on a journey to connect with the people who wrote to her and helped her when she was at her lowest. Not at all an easy book to read, but one that is quite profound with its honesty and raw insight into human nature. This is one that will stay with me for a long time.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karen R

    It began with an itch. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of twenty-two, Suleka’s story touches all the emotion buttons. Along with laser-sharp writing, thoughtful and insightful words, she journals her incredible journey living a precarious life with cancer and the impact on people within her orbit. Her courage, resilience and drive is inspirational. During a long stint in the hospital and no ability to maintain a ‘regular’ job, Suleka starts writing a blog, picked up by The New Yo It began with an itch. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at the age of twenty-two, Suleka’s story touches all the emotion buttons. Along with laser-sharp writing, thoughtful and insightful words, she journals her incredible journey living a precarious life with cancer and the impact on people within her orbit. Her courage, resilience and drive is inspirational. During a long stint in the hospital and no ability to maintain a ‘regular’ job, Suleka starts writing a blog, picked up by The New Yorker and receives many letters of support. One of my favorite parts of the book is after Suleka’s health improves, she will set off on 100-day road trip covering fifteen thousand miles, through thirty-three states, and setting up visits to two dozen people who had sent her letters of encouragement and wisdom. Her road journey is full of surprises (and bad driving!). A deeply affecting memoir of spiritual and physical healing. Thanks to Random House for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    4 stars - Thanks to Random House for offering me an Arc of this book and NetGalley for the download. For a debut book, this one is really good. Jaouad is very open and candid in her heartfelt story. Suleika Jaouad has her knees taken out from under her in the prime of her youth. She is diagnosed with leukemia. This story is a total walk through from before her diagnosis to her remission and everything that came in between. The long hospital stays, the additional bouts with other surgeries, and t 4 stars - Thanks to Random House for offering me an Arc of this book and NetGalley for the download. For a debut book, this one is really good. Jaouad is very open and candid in her heartfelt story. Suleika Jaouad has her knees taken out from under her in the prime of her youth. She is diagnosed with leukemia. This story is a total walk through from before her diagnosis to her remission and everything that came in between. The long hospital stays, the additional bouts with other surgeries, and the failure of her immune system. It chronicles the people she meets along the way, both those with and without various cancers. She relates her feelings, both with her caregivers and her family and how they end up growing out of balance. The men she loves and those who love her. Jaouad completes her years of illness with a 'thank you' tour. She not only takes out on her own, with her beloved dog, Oscar, but she travels across the United States stopping to see various people who connected with her while she was undergoing her cancer treatments. Everyone from a camp cook to a man on death row. Jaouad has had a difficult life, but tells her story amazingly well. By not running from the truth, she grabs your heart, at times leaving you breathless, and allows you to trail after her on her most often harrowing journey, always hoping for a good ending for a very graceful and talented young lady.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Suleika Jaouad’s writing is incredible. Her story is heart breaking and she is such a strong person. I would love to read more of her work in the future. I lack the proper words to describe how much I recommend this memoir. It made me tear up a few times and I loved reading about the different people she met in her journey. I thought the beginning and end was very engrossing but the middle part did drag a bit for me. I really loved the last 30% because Jaouad went on a lone road trip across Amer Suleika Jaouad’s writing is incredible. Her story is heart breaking and she is such a strong person. I would love to read more of her work in the future. I lack the proper words to describe how much I recommend this memoir. It made me tear up a few times and I loved reading about the different people she met in her journey. I thought the beginning and end was very engrossing but the middle part did drag a bit for me. I really loved the last 30% because Jaouad went on a lone road trip across America and that sounds so fun. I find her incredibly inspiring and her story offers loss, grief, but also hope, love, and overcoming hardships. Thank you so much for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carolann

    This book is sort of divided into three parts. When the book opens, Suleika Jaouad has just graduated from college. She moved to Paris and fell in love. Then, she found out she had leukemia. She moved back home with her parents in New York to begin treatment. Her boyfriend, who she really has only begun dating, leaves Paris and also moves in with her parents to support her. This part of the book was incredibly difficult to read at times, because she went through so much. During her treatment, she This book is sort of divided into three parts. When the book opens, Suleika Jaouad has just graduated from college. She moved to Paris and fell in love. Then, she found out she had leukemia. She moved back home with her parents in New York to begin treatment. Her boyfriend, who she really has only begun dating, leaves Paris and also moves in with her parents to support her. This part of the book was incredibly difficult to read at times, because she went through so much. During her treatment, she could not take care of herself at all, and constantly needed someone with her. Her boyfriend and mom ended up taking shifts because she could not be alone. On one heartbreaking occasion, she is alone for the evening and doesn’t even have the energy to get food to take with her mediation. Her boyfriend comes to home to find her on the floor throwing up. She had a very small chance to survive and had to watch her parents practically grieve her. Along the way, she makes friends who are also battling cancer and together they form their “cancer crew.” I could not hold back my tears as she describes their friendship, their hard conversations, and the way she had to say goodbye to them one by one. At a young age, Jaouad experienced more than most of us will experience in a lifetime. She found herself wanting to write, to get her story out, to have her life and her story mean something. Despite having absolutely no energy, she forms a blog, which quickly turns into a column for the New York Times. People begin to write to Jaouad from all over the world to express their support, to share their stories. After she recovers, she has a hard time finding her way “between two kingdoms,” that is, between the kingdom of the sick and the kingdom of the healthy. After not being able to rely on herself for anything, after not being able to be independent for so long, she doesn’t know what to do. In order to help herself move on, and to prove her independence to herself, she decides to get her driver’s license and take a road trip. During this road trip, she meets people who wrote to her while she was sick. She meets all kinds of people on her trip - from a a teacher grieving the death of her son to a man on death-row. She takes a little bit of wisdom from each person she meets. I think that this book will be hard to read for some people who have lost loved ones to cancer. I read it mostly while I was nursing my baby and the two acts combined often brought me to tears. But I found it to be incredibly moving. I read a lot of memoirs, but I feel like in some ways this book changed me on a level that I don’t fully understand yet. It has given me a new appreciation for life, for my independence, and a new fire to go out there and pursue my passions. I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is not coming out until February 9th 2021, but I already pre-ordered a copy. Pre-orders are so important to help books get visibility, but more importantly, this is a book I want on my bookshelf. Merged review: This book is sort of divided into three parts. When the book opens, Suleika Jaouad has just graduated from college. She moved to Paris and fell in love. Then, she found out she had leukemia. She moved back home with her parents in New York to begin treatment. Her boyfriend, who she really has only begun dating, leaves Paris and also moves in with her parents to support her. This part of the book was incredibly difficult to read at times, because she went through so much. During her treatment, she could not take care of herself at all, and constantly needed someone with her. Her boyfriend and mom ended up taking shifts because she could not be alone. On one heartbreaking occasion, she is alone for the evening and doesn’t even have the energy to get food to take with her mediation. Her boyfriend comes to home to find her on the floor throwing up. She had a very small chance to survive and had to watch her parents practically grieve her. Along the way, she makes friends who are also battling cancer and together they form their “cancer crew.” I could not hold back my tears as she describes their friendship, their hard conversations, and the way she had to say goodbye to them one by one. At a young age, Jaouad experienced more than most of us will experience in a lifetime. She found herself wanting to write, to get her story out, to have her life and her story mean something. Despite having absolutely no energy, she forms a blog, which quickly turns into a column for the New York Times. People begin to write to Jaouad from all over the world to express their support, to share their stories. After she recovers, she has a hard time finding her way “between two kingdoms,” that is, between the kingdom of the sick and the kingdom of the healthy. After not being able to rely on herself for anything, after not being able to be independent for so long, she doesn’t know what to do. In order to help herself move on, and to prove her independence to herself, she decides to get her driver’s license and take a road trip. During this road trip, she meets people who wrote to her while she was sick. She meets all kinds of people on her trip - from a a teacher grieving the death of her son to a man on death-row. She takes a little bit of wisdom from each person she meets. I think that this book will be hard to read for some people who have lost loved ones to cancer. I read it mostly while I was nursing my baby and the two acts combined often brought me to tears. But I found it to be incredibly moving. I read a lot of memoirs, but I feel like in some ways this book changed me on a level that I don’t fully understand yet. It has given me a new appreciation for life, a new fire to go out there and pursue my passions. I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is not coming out until February 9th 2021, but I already pre-ordered a copy. Pre-orders are so important to help books get visibility, but more importantly, this is a book I want on my bookshelf.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bianca

    On Sale Now Suleika Jaouad was only twenty-two years old when she diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia. Between Two Kingdoms is her journey through life, that involved diagnosis, gruesome treatments, the impact of such cruel disease on mental wellbeing, finances, relationships. It is a life interrupted, alright. You'd have to be a sociopath not to sympathise. What option does one have but to fight? The complexities of redefining one's "new normal" following remission are eloquently writ On Sale Now Suleika Jaouad was only twenty-two years old when she diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukaemia. Between Two Kingdoms is her journey through life, that involved diagnosis, gruesome treatments, the impact of such cruel disease on mental wellbeing, finances, relationships. It is a life interrupted, alright. You'd have to be a sociopath not to sympathise. What option does one have but to fight? The complexities of redefining one's "new normal" following remission are eloquently written. This was a compelling memoir. Wishing Suleika Jaouad the best of health and the best of luck. Many thanks to the publishers, Random House Publishing Group, for the opportunity to read and review this memoir.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Let me start this off by saying that I am not a dramatic person. With that being said, this book kinda changed my life. Just for some background: I’m 20 years old, I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome at the age of 7 (which is the rare pre-leukemic disease that Jaouad got before it turned into full-blown leukemia). I also almost lost my life in a battle with GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease, which Jaouad also dealt with). I’ve luckily been living a happy and healthy life since then. And for Let me start this off by saying that I am not a dramatic person. With that being said, this book kinda changed my life. Just for some background: I’m 20 years old, I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome at the age of 7 (which is the rare pre-leukemic disease that Jaouad got before it turned into full-blown leukemia). I also almost lost my life in a battle with GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease, which Jaouad also dealt with). I’ve luckily been living a happy and healthy life since then. And for extra funsies: I won this book in a goodreads giveaway and knew practically nothing about it before it landed at my doorstep. ——————————————— My family and I don’t talk about the time we spent in the hospital. It was deeply traumatic for them in ways that I will (hopefully) never understand, and I respect that. A consequence of this, however, is that I knew nothing about what I had until decided to write about it for my college application essay. I didn’t even know the name of the disease until I was 17. What I was left with was a swirl of memories and feelings that were processed in my 7-year-old brain and were left essentially untouched. That is, until I read this. I know what it feels like to have people talk about your health as if you weren’t even there. I know the frustration when you suddenly find out that you’re infertile (I found out by browsing my MyChart page my freshman year of college because no one told me). I know what the catheter feels like, and what it felt like when it was gone. Later in my life, I began to understand what Jaouad means when she writes that she realized “all the other imprints of illness with which I have yet to contend”. Anyways, if you’re here looking for an ***actual review*** of the book and not my weirdly personal confessions, here it is: Trauma reshapes the way we look at the world and the way we interact with the people around us, and Jaouad expertly describes the complexities of that liminal space that one exists in when going through something life-changing like cancer. If you’re someone who has gone through the death of a friend or family member, a serious diagnosis, or heartbreak, this is a book for you. If you haven’t experienced any of those things, this is also a book for you. While her specific experiences are rare, she speaks to a larger truth about finding selfhood in a constantly changing world. The stories she chooses to tell about the people she meets along the way are some of the most heartwarming and heartbreaking stories I’ve read. Not to mention, she’s fucking funny! Just read the book, ok? You won’t regret it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    The title of this memoir is taken from a line from Susan Sontag's book Illness as Metaphor: "Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place," At the age of 22, most of us do not expect to spend any substantial time in the kingdom of the sick. But for 22-year-old Suleika Jao The title of this memoir is taken from a line from Susan Sontag's book Illness as Metaphor: "Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place," At the age of 22, most of us do not expect to spend any substantial time in the kingdom of the sick. But for 22-year-old Suleika Jaouad, a diagnosis of myeloid leukemia turns her world upside down. The assumption of youthful invincibility is replaced with a strong awareness of the fragility of life, specifically her life. Part I of the memoir tells the story of her battle with cancer. But this is not just a memoir about illness, it is also a story about the post-remission struggle to redefine oneself as a member of the kingdom of the well. In contrast to the popular myth that recovery and remission constitute the end point of the story and a return to life as it was before illness, the author shows that remission from cancer marks the beginning of a new struggle, that is, how after years of fighting to survive do you transition to creating a life. One cannot as she explains return to being the old familiar self. That self is gone: "Though the word may suggest otherwise, recovery is not about salvaging the old at all. It's about accepting that you must forsake a familiar self forever, in favor of one that is being newly born. It is an act of brute, terrifying discovery." This journey of discovery in may ways is for the author more painful than the battle with cancer. She must come to terms with the costs of illness and survival -- the changes in her personal relationships, the loss of friends whose battle with cancer did not end with remission, her fears and insecurities, and the uncertainty of the future. She must also find ways to use the knowledge that she has gained from illness. The brutal honesty of this telling makes this a powerful read and highlights the courage and tenacity of the author. For unlike so many whitewashed narrative of illness and recovery, the author does not shy away from describing those moments when she does not like the way in which the illness has transformed her: "Suffering can make you selfish, turn you cruel." She does not paint an idyllic image of post-remission life. She shares with us her discover that "home will always be the in-between place, a wilderness" that the author has learned to love. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author of this book for an advance copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    ***Goodreads Giveaway Win*** I inhaled this book. Suleika Jaouad knows how to pull a reader into her world; I don't know how she does it. Maybe it's the clear way she writes; maybe it's that she does not hold back on the ugliness; maybe it's because she doesn't proselytize. All I know is I'd find my mind wandering throughout the day away from the task at hand and entering her story instead. This is the sign of a 5 star book. Highly recommend to every reader. ***Goodreads Giveaway Win*** I inhaled this book. Suleika Jaouad knows how to pull a reader into her world; I don't know how she does it. Maybe it's the clear way she writes; maybe it's that she does not hold back on the ugliness; maybe it's because she doesn't proselytize. All I know is I'd find my mind wandering throughout the day away from the task at hand and entering her story instead. This is the sign of a 5 star book. Highly recommend to every reader.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Curie

    "On some level, I was starting to realise that the life I'd had before was shattered – the person I'd been, buried. I would never be the same." I have never heard of Suleika Jaouad before reading this, so I was unaware of her exposure through the blog she kept up for her New York Times column Life, Interrupted. Aged 22, she was diagnosed with leukaemia and from her hospital room, she has become an advocate for those living with illness. This is her memoir, which is as much about what it's like "On some level, I was starting to realise that the life I'd had before was shattered – the person I'd been, buried. I would never be the same." I have never heard of Suleika Jaouad before reading this, so I was unaware of her exposure through the blog she kept up for her New York Times column Life, Interrupted. Aged 22, she was diagnosed with leukaemia and from her hospital room, she has become an advocate for those living with illness. This is her memoir, which is as much about what it's like to live through an illness like leukaemia, as it is about what comes after. The latter bit was the more fascinating to me personally. There's no doubt that being diagnosed with an illness like cancer is more than just interrupting. It's shattering at best and requires strength and endurance from the person in question as much as from everyone close to them. It's horrible to say that Jaouad's journey is no exceptional one, that a story like this is reality to so many. However, what truly made me think was how she spoke of what it's like to return to a normal life. I have to admit that I've never actually thought about how that part might be just as difficult as the phase spent in hospitals and in between check-ups and infusions. Maybe I've been too dulled from similar memoirs convincing me that there's gratefulness and appreciation for life to be gained from making such an experience. "Each morning, I wake up feeling so sad and lost that I can barely breathe. In my lowest moments, I fantasise about getting sick again. I miss the sense of purpose and clarity I felt while in treatment – the way staring your mortality straight in the eye simplifies things and reroutes your focus to what really matters." Yeah, so what does come after? In a most fortunate scenario, you'd have a scaffolding supporting you trough your diagnosis and treatment, but then after that goal is reached – the goal of keeping you alive – you're out there. On your own. Expected to move on and live your life. Jaouad admitting that this is coming at a cost is brave and yet – completely understandable. I admire her for both her drive and her willingness to admit (what might be perceived as) weakness. There's definitely a lot to take from this, may it be about the nature of empathy or caregiving, health systems or coping mechanisms.

  21. 4 out of 5

    abby

    I really appreciated the honesty of this memoir. It didn't exactly wow me, but it was a very intimate look into the life of a young woman with cancer. I really appreciated the honesty of this memoir. It didn't exactly wow me, but it was a very intimate look into the life of a young woman with cancer.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ☮Karen

    3.5 stars When Suleika Jaouad is diagnosed at age 22 with leukemia, she is in what feels like the happiest place in her life. Living in Paris with a man who loves her unconditionally, both of them were on the cusp of new careers and adventures. The diagnosis sends her back to her parents' home and the specialists in New York, followed closely by her soon-to-be fiancé, for what will turn into four years of chemo, a bone marrow transplant, and hospital stays. This will be, obviously, the hardest pa 3.5 stars When Suleika Jaouad is diagnosed at age 22 with leukemia, she is in what feels like the happiest place in her life. Living in Paris with a man who loves her unconditionally, both of them were on the cusp of new careers and adventures. The diagnosis sends her back to her parents' home and the specialists in New York, followed closely by her soon-to-be fiancé, for what will turn into four years of chemo, a bone marrow transplant, and hospital stays. This will be, obviously, the hardest part of her young life and a test of all her relationships. In treatment she meets a myriad of new people, fellow cancer patients and their families. As writing a blog, a journal, and then a column in the New York Times becomes her therapy, she also receives hundreds of letters from strangers telling of their experiences and thanking her for sharing hers. The first half of the book is all about her horrible experience with cancer and how it affected her and her boyfriend's feelings about each other. Suleika was naturally focused on herself and what she needed, as she was very dependent on others to keep her on track. Her boyfriend was amazing, even when he needed occasional time off. The second half has a recovering Suleika making a 100-day trip around the U.S. to visit fellow sufferers, some old acquaintances, but most new. She was really brave (or naive) to do this with no one else but her adorable rescue mutt. The first half read very much like my own journals from when I had cancer, which I consider rather amateurly written and self centered. Having cancer makes you obsessed about what's happening to you, so this was not surprising. Even so, I was not made to like her writing or her personality much until the traveling began. Both of those improved greatly in Part 2. That journey obviously cleansed her soul and she wrote about the experience with finesse. I used to think healing meant ridding the body and the heart of anything that hurt. It meant putting your pain behind you, leaving it in the past. But I’m learning that’s not how it works. Healing is figuring out how to coexist with the pain that will always live inside of you, without pretending it isn’t there or allowing it to hijack your day. It is learning to confront ghosts and to carry what lingers. It is learning to embrace the people I love now instead of protecting against a future in which I am gutted by their loss. - Suleika Jaouad, in my complimentary e-copy courtesy of Penguin Random House and NetGalley.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jhauolo

    I thought this would be a road trip book based on the cover and description, but that's only the last third of the book or so, and it meanders once it gets to that point. Instead it was two-thirds a graphic account of what it's like to get cancer and the treatment process. It's obviously not easy to get cancer at such a sensitive time in your life, and she had a particularly difficult case, but it's hard to watch her railroad her family, and particularly her boyfriend who took up the mantle of b I thought this would be a road trip book based on the cover and description, but that's only the last third of the book or so, and it meanders once it gets to that point. Instead it was two-thirds a graphic account of what it's like to get cancer and the treatment process. It's obviously not easy to get cancer at such a sensitive time in your life, and she had a particularly difficult case, but it's hard to watch her railroad her family, and particularly her boyfriend who took up the mantle of being her primary caretaker despite barely knowing her. She deserves credit for being somewhat honest about not being perfect in these times, and obviously she was quite young, but the retelling does feel a bit... constructed, to the degree that you wonder what the realities were. I know it's a memoir and it's her reality. Obviously the cancer ravaged her livelihood, but, she chose to also express how it ravaged her relationships. I don't love the picture that emerges there, or the example it sets, and by that I mean: Every conflict becomes about her and her ability to forgive herself for acting out over the basic needs over those around her, and not empathy for those around her and whether their needs were also valid. When she still can't get there, especially now that she has the 10,000 foot view as she's writing a book if not in the moment, that feels like the thought pattern of a self-centered asshole, frankly. I notice she did not thank Will in the acknowledgments; strange omission! When cancer puts people so far beyond reproach, even makes people afraid of engaging with a person's less than honorable qualities, I'm not sure she's entirely holding herself accountable in her relationships. "I had cancer!" covers all manner of sins. The writing was nice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒋𝒐𝒚, 𝒂 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒎 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒈𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒆𝒅, 𝒂 𝒓𝒐𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒘𝒆𝒕, 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒔𝒂𝒗𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒖𝒏𝒇𝒐𝒍𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉 𝒎𝒚 𝒔𝒌𝒊𝒏. Suleika Jaouad had just graduated from college, was living in New York City having scored a summer internship, and dreamed of a career as a foreign correspondent. The internship isn’t supporting her, and her exhaustion has returned, telling her a change in scenery could be the cure. A position for a paralegal at an A via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑭𝒐𝒓 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒋𝒐𝒚, 𝒂 𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒓𝒎 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒈𝒂𝒊𝒏𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒆𝒅, 𝒂 𝒓𝒐𝒊𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒔𝒆𝒏𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒃𝒐𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈, 𝒔𝒐𝒎𝒆 𝒘𝒆𝒕, 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒔𝒂𝒗𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒖𝒏𝒇𝒐𝒍𝒅𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒃𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒉 𝒎𝒚 𝒔𝒌𝒊𝒏. Suleika Jaouad had just graduated from college, was living in New York City having scored a summer internship, and dreamed of a career as a foreign correspondent. The internship isn’t supporting her, and her exhaustion has returned, telling her a change in scenery could be the cure. A position for a paralegal at an American law firm in Paris catches her eye one hot summer day and soon she is off to the start of a new career in the beauty of France, escape from drudgery but not before she meets a man named Will. With her fresh start, romance kicks up when she begins to correspond with Will through text messages, emails and long letters. Soon, he arrives in Paris to be with Suleika and just as love is blossoming, a fog descends, her health spirals out of control. An itch, extreme exhaustion that gets worse and worse, all harbingers of something sinister, easy enough to ignore until “burn out syndrome” isn’t enough to explain away why her red blood cells are dropping. Before she can wake up from this nightmare, she is rushed back home to New York and diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an extremely aggressive form of cancer. There is a line in this riveting, raw memoir that many women who have suffered illness will relate to, “I wasn’t a hypochondriac, after all, making up symptoms.” Someone could write a book with that title alone and fill it with true horror stories about women and illnesses ignored. With the horror of the diagnosis comes strange relief, to finally have a solid explanation for the symptoms, but this is just the beginning of a long, painful journey. Cancer is indiscriminate, even educated young women with promising futures, careers waiting for them get reeled in by it’s mean hook. Between Two Kingdoms is an apt title, particularly to those with one foot in the land of the living and the other in the land of the dead (dying). With her revelations on the road of cancer, all the people she meets, the pull and push between her love for Will, her family’s worries, the self-transformations, the grasp for survival and the rewriting of the life she imagined for herself the readers get close to wisdom and suffering. You can never truly know how it feels, not even as a caretaker, until it is your body that has turned against you. To be sick is to live in a world alongside the healthy who sees, at times, to have nothing to do with you. To feel blessed by those willing to stick by your side and resent that you have to feel thankful is beautifully expressed in her fledging, romantic relationship and complicated feelings for Will. Unlike Hollywood movies where the sick glow like saints from their hospital bed, reality is nothing like that. Diagnosis is grave and terrifying for everyone involved but it is the patient that can never put the mantle of their disease down. The failing body will make itself known, and juggling the emotional reaction of others (well intentioned family and friends) is often yet another cross to bear. It is a flood of advice, naturally from people who don’t have medical degrees, advice you didn’t solicit raining down on you like bullets. It’s time no longer being your own, privacy, and humility thrown to the wind. You begin to feel more of a thing, a body pinned under a microscope. It is a suspension of one’s life, with no guarantee it will continue. It is never being out of the woods, not even if you are cured. Illness has a way of cancelling out all the other pressing issues that felt so vital before. Suleika will watch others, like her, fight and lose their own battles and come close to the edge of death herself. Hope is a demon of it’s own. With her creative mind, Suleika starts a blog that reaches young adults like her, an anchor in the storm of cancer. A blog that lands her an opportunity during her darkest days. In her own words, she expresses the pain of needing people, the pressure of playing the part of patient (how one should suffer, usually with grace), displaced anger, the battle against the clock, mortality, and the horrors of the hospital. Body, mind and life a disaster- this is the ruins of cancer. What happens when light shines again, when a patient is told they are better but they still feel trapped in the land of the dying? How do you learn to dance with fear without allowing it to lead you? We are all struggling with something, Suleika knows this better than most. This is a gorgeous, biting, brave, honest memoir about a young woman’s life interrupted by cancer and everything that happens in the aftermath. Yes, read it. Publication Date: February 9, 2021 Random House

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Pickens

    I received this book unsolicited and I wanted to thank the publisher for sending it. It was one of the best books I have read this year. I would compare it to "When Breath Becomes Air" as to the emotional impact of the story. A young person losing their health is a tragedy beyond words, and the author eloquently describes the emotional experience of losing your identity when you lose your health, and recovery is leaving that person behind and struggling to find your new path in life. I received this book unsolicited and I wanted to thank the publisher for sending it. It was one of the best books I have read this year. I would compare it to "When Breath Becomes Air" as to the emotional impact of the story. A young person losing their health is a tragedy beyond words, and the author eloquently describes the emotional experience of losing your identity when you lose your health, and recovery is leaving that person behind and struggling to find your new path in life.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Rosenblum

    I really wish the last 30% of this book had been the entire story. Majority of the book is taken up with the awful (or all) parts of cancer. Being a caregiver of a cancer patient and reading many other books already covering this aspect, I found the author's point of view less than a good read. Her journey after the ravages and her transformation to a new life were well done. I really wish the last 30% of this book had been the entire story. Majority of the book is taken up with the awful (or all) parts of cancer. Being a caregiver of a cancer patient and reading many other books already covering this aspect, I found the author's point of view less than a good read. Her journey after the ravages and her transformation to a new life were well done.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura Peden

    Imagine this: you’re a beautiful, intelligent & accomplished 22 year old woman, living abroad in Paris with your new love & you’re a recent Princeton graduate...and then you get news that shatters your life....you have a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia 💔 Suleika Jaouad is the daughter of a Tunisian-born French literature professor and a Swiss-born painter. She was considering a career as a war correspondent when she has to head back home to New York to begin treatment. Suleika takes you on he Imagine this: you’re a beautiful, intelligent & accomplished 22 year old woman, living abroad in Paris with your new love & you’re a recent Princeton graduate...and then you get news that shatters your life....you have a rare form of acute myeloid leukemia 💔 Suleika Jaouad is the daughter of a Tunisian-born French literature professor and a Swiss-born painter. She was considering a career as a war correspondent when she has to head back home to New York to begin treatment. Suleika takes you on her journey through the kingdom of the sick and the kingdom of the well (from a book by Susan Sontag); how cancer affected all of her relationships, once those closest to her became her caregivers. She miraculously beats the odds & is back in the kingdom of well, but finds herself lost to who she is and what she wants, after facing death’s door so many times. I laughed & cried and completely binged this audiobook from start to finish. I was so moved by her honest & beautiful words. I didn’t know her partner was Jon Baptiste from Stephen Colbert! They’re adorable. The audiobook is read by the author (only the best memoirs are...) I can’t recommend this book enough. Don’t miss it!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie White

    Suleika Jaouad takes her readers along as she intimately recounts her journey through "the in-between place." In its beginning chapters, Jaouad shares her sense of uncertainty as she bounds from one less-than-thrilling job to the next. Jaouad reminds us of the adage, "If you want to make G-d laugh, tell him your plans." After only recently settling in Paris to embark on the beginning of the rest of her life, Jaouad finds herself being whisked back to the US seemingly overnight. From there, we sh Suleika Jaouad takes her readers along as she intimately recounts her journey through "the in-between place." In its beginning chapters, Jaouad shares her sense of uncertainty as she bounds from one less-than-thrilling job to the next. Jaouad reminds us of the adage, "If you want to make G-d laugh, tell him your plans." After only recently settling in Paris to embark on the beginning of the rest of her life, Jaouad finds herself being whisked back to the US seemingly overnight. From there, we share in her uncertainties, familial stress, caregiver burnout, and the ever-looming understanding that our lives here are only temporary. We root for her to succeed, to survive, and to find what she is looking for. After years of hospital gurneys, late-night ER trips, deep moments of grief, and ultimately, the luck of survival, Jaouad finds herself "cured" and able to begin her life. With her newly acquired driver's license and her Schnoodle Oscar, we embark on a new journey, this time full of hope for a future she has not yet even dreamed of. As she so aptly reminds us, "It is possible for me to alter the course of my becoming," and she leaves readers reflecting on our own lives, how we choose to spend our time, and with whom. A beautiful memoir that challenges readers to self-reflect on our own time here, I recommend this to anyone seeking a deeper understanding of grief, caregiving, and empathy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mbgirl

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A gorgeous young woman gifted in double bass, a polyglot, a Princeton alumnus, marvelous and thoughtful writer, experienced in studying abroad in Egypt, and having worked and lived briefly just north of the Picasso Museum in Paris, SJ lived a vibrant and blessed life. And in this dawn of her life, a doozy dropped in her lap. As SJ herself said, this is a study and meditation in transmuted sorrow, from a life derailed from its young foundling trajectory, interrupted by the evils of AML. “Putting on A gorgeous young woman gifted in double bass, a polyglot, a Princeton alumnus, marvelous and thoughtful writer, experienced in studying abroad in Egypt, and having worked and lived briefly just north of the Picasso Museum in Paris, SJ lived a vibrant and blessed life. And in this dawn of her life, a doozy dropped in her lap. As SJ herself said, this is a study and meditation in transmuted sorrow, from a life derailed from its young foundling trajectory, interrupted by the evils of AML. “Putting one’s pain behind and healing is figuring how to coexist with the pain that will always live inside of you, without pretending it isn’t there, or allowing it to hijack your day.” This was her challenge. It feels wrong to have this opinion, as I wasn’t the young twenty-something who had to navigate so much. But I had an extremely difficult time with the fact that she didn’t even dedicate any part of her memoir to Will— I looked everywhere. Indeed, she grew up and was courageous enough to reflect upon the dynamics of her codependent relationship with him. But his myriad sacrifices and depth of love gifted to her— I shake my head. It’s hard for me to reconcile all of her anger and rage there. A survivor, she had to navigate and embrace the challenge of learning how to live, live with meaning and purpose, and live with the coexistence of that earlier mention. Indeed, millions of us live in this middle terrain, between the two kingdoms of which Susan Sontag (“my library is an archive of longings”) cites. And this is how this extremely powerful memoir moves me. Loss is inevitable. How will we choose to live with this as part of our life story? PS JUST LOVE LOVE her mention of Appalachian State in Boone NC!! I’ve walked that campus nestled in the mountains, wishing I went to nursing school there— totally zen. PPS my favorite line of the book: “It’s a tricky balance, attempting to find resonance in someone’s story without reducing your suffering to sameness. Aside from the obvious differences in skin color and privilege, gender and education, the very fact that I am visiting Lil’ GQ while on a road trip underscores an oceanic difference: Mine is a body in motion; his is a body behind bars. But for the duration of our visit we pretend otherwise, both of us acting as if we are in a coffee shop somewhere, just two people chatting away, trying—however imperfectly—to relate to each other.”

  30. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    A heart rending memoir of a life interrupted.....by leukemia. Suleika eventually has a bone marrow transplant and then takes a road trip across the US to visit friends and strangers who helped her during her three year hospital ordeal. Her writing is exquisite as she describes her fears, her loneliness, her anger, at a world that goes on without her participation. She is doing well today, and her memoir of her journeys is fascinating and full of love.

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