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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

    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, 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    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 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.

  4. 5 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.

  5. 4 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rather.be.reading1

    Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. I was sucked in from the very first sentence! I love a good travel transformation story so this was great! Definitely recommend.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Four and a half to five stars. Jaouad's memoir, though haunting at times, is beautifully written. Her account of battling cancer in her early-mid 20s is relayed with remarkable self-awareness, clarity, and honesty. It is stunning and will especially resonate with anyone who has dealt with chronic or acute health problems at an early age (particularly females). She holds nothing back in describing the physical and emotion I received a digital ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Four and a half to five stars. Jaouad's memoir, though haunting at times, is beautifully written. Her account of battling cancer in her early-mid 20s is relayed with remarkable self-awareness, clarity, and honesty. It is stunning and will especially resonate with anyone who has dealt with chronic or acute health problems at an early age (particularly females). She holds nothing back in describing the physical and emotional traumas of cancer and the concomitant treatments, yet her writing remains articulate and coherent, without a trace of self-pity. The two kingdoms of the title refer to the kingdoms of the healthy and the sick, and how we can travel back and forth between these kingdoms throughout our lives. Similarly, Jaouad's book is really two books in one. The second "book" describes her solo travels across the country in a borrowed car, alone. She never veers into clichés about finding herself, yet her changing reflections, feelings, and processing of her health battles and relationships are evident. I also appreciated that Jaouod never sugar coats these relatively joyous days, either. She encounters dangers and fears in traveling alone as a young woman, and she visits and stays with strangers from all walks of life (many of these strangers were "met" through letters and social media responses to a series of articles/videos posted during her illness). I particularly enjoyed reading about one of her final visits to a prisoner on death row. There isn't a whiff of elitism or pity, making Jaouad a wanted friend to both the recipients of her visits and her readers. I hope Jaouad continues to write and share stories of her life - her debut memoir is compelling and absorbing.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    When you are about to graduate from college, life is full of possibilities. It is almost inconceivable to imagine one of those possibilities being diagnosed with cancer, but this was the deck dealt to the author at twenty-two. Not only will everyday challenge Suleika to just live until the next treatment, the next round of side effects, the next dose of bad news, it will also leave her much different than she was before. The first part of the story chronicles what Suleika went through, from feeli When you are about to graduate from college, life is full of possibilities. It is almost inconceivable to imagine one of those possibilities being diagnosed with cancer, but this was the deck dealt to the author at twenty-two. Not only will everyday challenge Suleika to just live until the next treatment, the next round of side effects, the next dose of bad news, it will also leave her much different than she was before. The first part of the story chronicles what Suleika went through, from feeling unwell to the initial diagnosis to her(hopefully) final treatment. Her family, friends, and the man she loves support her as much as they can. Unfortunately, not everyone will be standing next to her as she embarks on the next phase of her life. She can't always see beyond her own misery and pain, and it is hard to empathize with those around her, after all, she is the one suffering all these indignities and the one who might die. I know both sides of this dilemma personally, your own need encompasses everything else. The second part focuses on Suleika venturing beyond the land of the sick and trying to figure out how to rejoin the land of the well. She sets off on a road trip to meet some of the strangers that reached out to her while she was sick. The people she meets and the lessons she learns are a bridge to her creating a new life that accepts her new normal and allows her to move forward. This was not an easy read but was a very moving memoir. When you think life has thrown every hard knock your way, there might be one or many more. I can't think of one person who wouldn't benefit by reading Between Two Kingdoms. It is a raw and honest look at mortality and what it means to be given another chance. 4.5 stars.

  9. 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.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra | Naturemamareads

    This is one of my most anticipated books for 2021!! I absolutely adored this book. During covid I participated in her project "The Isolation Journals" and it really helped me coupe and get through the pandemic as a nursing assistant on a covid unit. I loved her book even more. I will definitely be buying and featuring this one!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    A raw, beautifully written memoir of illness and as importantly recovery and transition back into being a well human from the perspective of the cancer stricken author and with much wisdom on the role of caretakers. I realized when I finished the book that I had taken no notes; I guess that says it all - I was so absorbed I forgot I had to write a review:) Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an early release and the opportunity to share my honest opinion

  12. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Between Two Kingdoms is one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and Suleika Jaouad is an inspirational, courageous young woman. To have gone through the immense physical challenges that she went through would have broken most of us. In fact, Suleika admits that she was many times at the point of death and felt beyond broken, physically and mentally. Her remarkable story of diagnosis, years of treatments, physical recovery, and her time on the road trying to decide who she was afterwards is thoug Between Two Kingdoms is one of the best memoirs I've ever read, and Suleika Jaouad is an inspirational, courageous young woman. To have gone through the immense physical challenges that she went through would have broken most of us. In fact, Suleika admits that she was many times at the point of death and felt beyond broken, physically and mentally. Her remarkable story of diagnosis, years of treatments, physical recovery, and her time on the road trying to decide who she was afterwards is thought-provoking and engaging.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda Metzger

    I really lucked out...receiving THIS book to review from NetGalley!!!!!!! A memoir you will never forget! Suleika went through so much trying to get well after finding out she had leukemia and boy did the author have me feeling her pain!!! What an amazing journey she had!! Eloquent writing...superb writing!!! You are bound to be "so touched" by Suleika's journey.....It will take me a while to figure our all the reasons I will never forget this story~ 5 STARS...I highly recommend this memoir~

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I was so happy to get an advance reader's copy from NetGalley. I had remembered reading Jaouad's columns in the New York Times and had been moved and impressed by her writing. Her book is even better--from the content to the writing style--it is a book that deserves to be widely read and re-read for all the important thoughts that it holds. Highly recommended.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Quiltmom14

    Thank you NetGalley for the early look at this book. Between Two Kingdoms is a memoir of a young woman with a horrific diagnosis, taking us from just pre-diagnosis through post treatment. The best part about the book is the extraordinary writing; I hope we get to read a lot more by this author. Jaouad makes her words sing and her descriptions will stay with you for a long, long time. The story, the “self” and “life” questions raised and grappled with, are (imho) ones we should all be asking ours Thank you NetGalley for the early look at this book. Between Two Kingdoms is a memoir of a young woman with a horrific diagnosis, taking us from just pre-diagnosis through post treatment. The best part about the book is the extraordinary writing; I hope we get to read a lot more by this author. Jaouad makes her words sing and her descriptions will stay with you for a long, long time. The story, the “self” and “life” questions raised and grappled with, are (imho) ones we should all be asking ourselves. What is the purpose and meaning of life? Better love and lost than never loved at all? Who are we if we’re not who we were before some life-altering experience? Highly recommended.

  16. 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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karla Osorno

    Most of us know someone who has had cancer. Maybe it is even someone close to us. Yet the complexities and pain of walking through the experience isn’t something we can fully understand if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. Reading this memoir was my first introduction to the minute details of all the decisions, treatments, and losses cancer brings. It was also my first introduction to Suleika Jaouad. Suleika chronicled her real time experience in articles and videos for the New York Times. I Most of us know someone who has had cancer. Maybe it is even someone close to us. Yet the complexities and pain of walking through the experience isn’t something we can fully understand if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. Reading this memoir was my first introduction to the minute details of all the decisions, treatments, and losses cancer brings. It was also my first introduction to Suleika Jaouad. Suleika chronicled her real time experience in articles and videos for the New York Times. I never saw them. So reading her story was new and raw for me. I cried. I prayed. I felt all of the emotions. In part because her story is heartbreaking. In larger part because Suleika’s writing is vulnerable and gorgeous. Chapter 2 ends with these beautifully crafted sentences. “‘Joy is a terrifying emotion, don’t trust it,’ I added to the page. For under the joy, a storm was gaining speed, a rolling sense of foreboding, some wet, starless savagery unfolding beneath my skin.” In her early twenties, Suleika was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Her journey to remission was four years long. She, along with her boyfriend, family, and friends, battled cancer and currently she is cancer free. But battling and winning against cancer wasn’t the end. It turns out it was just the beginning. Once Suleika was in remission she then had to fight to gain her identity and life back or more accurately to forge a new identity. It seems cancer stole much more than her health and impacted others (including her parents, her brother, and Will). In the second half of the memoir we get to journey with Suleika as she travels on a 15,000 mile road trip to rediscover herself and learn from many of the people across America who connected with her via letters. So much has changed. The memoir starts on the streets of New York and Paris and one of the last stops on her trek is a prison in a small town in Texas. The lessons she learns about being sick and being well can translate to any of us. None of us has a guarantee of health or of anything else, making this a memoir that is about more than cancer. All of us is fighting our own battles. This book is heartbreaking and also hope filled. I recommend it for readers who aren’t afraid of reading about suffering if it also comes with hard-fought lessons and glimmers of joy and hope. In this book you get both. Thank you to the Random House and Net Galley for an advanced review copy of Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted by Suleika Jaouad.

  18. 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    *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. Thanks you to Suleika Jaourd, Random House, and NetGalley for a copy of the memoir due out February 9, 2021.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    Author Suleika Jaouad gifts us with a three-act play in her memoir of her life spent in the kingdom of illness, and then the kingdom of recovery. “Act One” is the story of her life in the kingdom of the well and healthy. We meet a young and talented woman, finishing college at Princeton, ready to seize the world. “Act II” is the overwhelming story of her multi-year travails against leukemia. ‘Act III” starts out as a “is that all there is?” period of her life. How do you go between the kingdoms Author Suleika Jaouad gifts us with a three-act play in her memoir of her life spent in the kingdom of illness, and then the kingdom of recovery. “Act One” is the story of her life in the kingdom of the well and healthy. We meet a young and talented woman, finishing college at Princeton, ready to seize the world. “Act II” is the overwhelming story of her multi-year travails against leukemia. ‘Act III” starts out as a “is that all there is?” period of her life. How do you go between the kingdoms of critical illness and then the possibility of life? Much of what Ms. Jaouad tells us is based on her well-known blog, “Girl, Interrupted.” But she experienced so much more than an interruption. Her life was totally knocked apart, and then she was slowly and carefully able to rebuild it. She survived, but then did not know how to live. Her writing is honest, stark yet lyrical, and she shares it all- family, dating, relationships, the details of her illness and treatment. Her humor mixes with her pain and anguish. (Her brother started calling her “Suleikemia”.) In “Act III”, after a year of depression and feeling untethered after her arduous treatments were over, she comes up with the idea to go on a solo road trip across America. She travels from the East Coast to the West Coast (she just learned how to drive!) and she visits some of the people who connected with her during her illness. All of the folks she visits became friends through her blog and all are lovely people. Probably the most unusual was the man she chatted with on death row. The book ends as she returns to New York, ready to accept whatever mind and body she currently has. This is a long story, a consuming story, and well worth the read. I received an advance digital review copy from NetGalley and the Publisher Random house (thanks for granting me my wish!). This is my honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Probably the best memoir I have read in my entire life - terrifying, brave and daring. With the ongoing global pandemic, I have lately had a lot of dark thoughts about the possibility of encountering not just the virus, but also other terminate diseases. I usually push such thoughts out of my mind completely, but I realized that hiding my head in the sand is not helping with this anxiety. Therefore, as part of my cleansing process of facing the fear of disease, I began to educate myself on health Probably the best memoir I have read in my entire life - terrifying, brave and daring. With the ongoing global pandemic, I have lately had a lot of dark thoughts about the possibility of encountering not just the virus, but also other terminate diseases. I usually push such thoughts out of my mind completely, but I realized that hiding my head in the sand is not helping with this anxiety. Therefore, as part of my cleansing process of facing the fear of disease, I began to educate myself on health and disease. And I'm so glad that Between Two Kingdoms came to me at this time. This book is a unique and daring memoir of Suleika who was diagnosed leukemia at just 23, just as she was living her best life expanding her career abroad. I could literally see myself in her: young, ambitious, educated, unafraid of adventure and challenges. But then, her fight with leukemia challenged not just her body, but also everything she believed about herself. I couldn't put down this tale of illness and survival, but especially in the parts that described what happened after the disease. Still very young, Suleika was basically starting a new life, yet with a lot more uncertainty about life and less of the drive she had before. There was not a thing I disliked about this book. Thank you to the author for writing this book and being so brave and open. *Thank you to the Publisher for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna Boyd

    Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad is a memoir of Jaouad's life before, during and after being diagnosed with leukemia. Shortly before her twenty-third birthday, as she is finishing up college at Princeton, Jaouad is diagnosed with leukemia and given a 35% chance of survival. Giving up life as she knows it, she spends the next four ye Thank you to #NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my honest review. Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad is a memoir of Jaouad's life before, during and after being diagnosed with leukemia. Shortly before her twenty-third birthday, as she is finishing up college at Princeton, Jaouad is diagnosed with leukemia and given a 35% chance of survival. Giving up life as she knows it, she spends the next four years undergoing chemo, clinical trials, and a bone marrow transplant, all the while fighting for her life. When doctors announce that she is cured, she hits the road with Oscar, her dog, and goes on a 15,000 mile, 100 day trip across the country to visit people she corresponded with while she was undergoing treatment. During the trip she discovers that even though she is living a different life than what she had planned, maybe she is living a better one than she could have dreamed of. She learns to bridge the gap between the kingdom of sickness and the kingdom of wellness. It is a beautifully written, inspiring book and is well worth your time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    Reading about someone's illness is never easy, and it's even more difficult when the person you're reading about is so young. Suleika Jaouad was just 23 when she received her leukemia diagnosis spending the majority of that decade fighting and ultimately winning her battle with the disease. Once her cancer is behind her, Jaoad needs to relearn how to be well again -- to learn to live in a world where illness doesn't dominate. She feels stuck between these two kingdoms -- the one where illness is Reading about someone's illness is never easy, and it's even more difficult when the person you're reading about is so young. Suleika Jaouad was just 23 when she received her leukemia diagnosis spending the majority of that decade fighting and ultimately winning her battle with the disease. Once her cancer is behind her, Jaoad needs to relearn how to be well again -- to learn to live in a world where illness doesn't dominate. She feels stuck between these two kingdoms -- the one where illness is rampant vs. one where wellness prevails. She needs to relearn how not to be a cancer patient. In order to bridge that gap between these two worlds, Jaoad 's solo cross-country journey accomplishes this as she meets up with many of the individuals she made contact with during her illness through their letters and emails. . This is a remarkable memoir written by an incredibly talented young writer. Her story is raw, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting. Thank you to #NetGalley and Random House for providing me with a digital copy of this book prior to publication in exchange for my review. #BetweenTwoKingdoms

  24. 4 out of 5

    Diane Ferbrache

    I was personally disappointed in this book. I read the description and understood it to be more about the road trip than the author's cancer fight. More than half (60+% or even more) was about her diagnosis and treatment. Only the last few chapters were about her road trip. I'm generally not interested in stories, movies, or TV shows about illness & treatment -- I'm probably one of the few people who has never seen Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Hope. Having said that, this is an amazing and very wel I was personally disappointed in this book. I read the description and understood it to be more about the road trip than the author's cancer fight. More than half (60+% or even more) was about her diagnosis and treatment. Only the last few chapters were about her road trip. I'm generally not interested in stories, movies, or TV shows about illness & treatment -- I'm probably one of the few people who has never seen Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Hope. Having said that, this is an amazing and very well written look at cancer, especially when it hits a young person just about to embark on adulthood. Not only the treatment that takes over in the terms of time spent in hospitals and doctors' offices, but the emotional toll it takes on the victim and everyone around them. This is a heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting story about life, death, and living with a critical disease before, during, and after. Looking back on the book as a whole, I'm glad I read it. I'm sure it will be a wonderful book for adult book club discussions. I'm looking forward to reading more from this author.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    A lovely, honest, searing book that looks back at the author’s story when, in her 20s, she underwent treatment for leukemia. At the same time, she wrote a series of articles in the New York Times about her experiences. I read every column at the time and it was eye-opening to read this account and learn in more depth what was going on as she wrote them. Hers was a long and harrowing treatment and she is remarkably self-aware as she looks back at it. When her treatment ended, she set out on an ep A lovely, honest, searing book that looks back at the author’s story when, in her 20s, she underwent treatment for leukemia. At the same time, she wrote a series of articles in the New York Times about her experiences. I read every column at the time and it was eye-opening to read this account and learn in more depth what was going on as she wrote them. Hers was a long and harrowing treatment and she is remarkably self-aware as she looks back at it. When her treatment ended, she set out on an epic U.S. road trip to meet some of the strangers who reached out to her in support as a result of her articles, and whose words especially resonated. It is amazing to see her be able to write such a beautiful book after all she went through. The trauma of the disease, the horror of her life being so disrupted and difficult for much of her 20s — and yet she is so strong, and determined, and look what she has done! I highly recommend this book to anyone encountering cancer, or who is in their 20s or 30s, values relationships, writes, or likes road trips. And to everyone else, too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    Suleika Jaouad was only in her early twenties, living in Paris with a new boyfriend, when she was diagnosed with Leukemia. This memoir chronicles the hazy months before her diagnosis, her life in and out of hospitals and the realization that the afterwards of illness is sometimes just as hard as during. While sick, she decided to write about her experience in the form of a blog, which was eventually picked up as a column in the New York Times. She writes beautifully and when she discusses her sy Suleika Jaouad was only in her early twenties, living in Paris with a new boyfriend, when she was diagnosed with Leukemia. This memoir chronicles the hazy months before her diagnosis, her life in and out of hospitals and the realization that the afterwards of illness is sometimes just as hard as during. While sick, she decided to write about her experience in the form of a blog, which was eventually picked up as a column in the New York Times. She writes beautifully and when she discusses her symptoms, I could feel it viscerally and had to take occasional breaks. The second part, where she travels the nation meeting people who wrote to her while she was sick, was so inspiring. She realizes that regardless of differences, everyone is carrying their private pain and doing their best to live in the moment. I highly recommend this one, especially during this time period when everything feels so fragile. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    Exceptional book! The author's beautiful writing explores both the harsh realities of illness as well as what hard questions lie on the other side for a survivor whose body has betrayed them in such a horrific way. I think we often assume that survivors will have a new lease on life and be overwhelmingly positive, however, her memoir demonstrates how the scars and fears after going through something so traumatic persist even after a person is given a clean bill of health. As someone in healthcare Exceptional book! The author's beautiful writing explores both the harsh realities of illness as well as what hard questions lie on the other side for a survivor whose body has betrayed them in such a horrific way. I think we often assume that survivors will have a new lease on life and be overwhelmingly positive, however, her memoir demonstrates how the scars and fears after going through something so traumatic persist even after a person is given a clean bill of health. As someone in healthcare who has taken care of patients with ailments such as Suleika's leukemia, it particularly touched me and enabled me to better understand the suffering that these patients go through. Her account is unflinching and rightfully so. I also appreciated her cross-country journey to meet in person those that had written to her and the revelations she discovered about life and herself. This is truly an inspiring book and one I highly recommend!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Terry Swindell

    I really enjoyed this book. I have been a cancer survivor for almost 20 years, and I still remember finishing my treatments and looking forward to getting back to my life. Just like with the writer, that didn’t happen. I had to make a new one. I did not go through anything even close to the ordeal that she did, but her book was still spot on. You are never really cured. The treatments ravage your body, and you are left susceptible to other cancers and all sorts of long-term side effects. Going t I really enjoyed this book. I have been a cancer survivor for almost 20 years, and I still remember finishing my treatments and looking forward to getting back to my life. Just like with the writer, that didn’t happen. I had to make a new one. I did not go through anything even close to the ordeal that she did, but her book was still spot on. You are never really cured. The treatments ravage your body, and you are left susceptible to other cancers and all sorts of long-term side effects. Going through a life-or-death situation like hers also changes the way you see yourself and the world around you. It’s not just a physical journey, but a psychological one as well. The writer puts all of this down on paper with thoughtfulness and grace.. I cried with her when she struggled and rejoiced with her when she triumphed. Definitely a great read. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in return for my honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    I wish that I could say that I read this book in one sitting, but I can't. I had to take numerous breaks to process all that this young lady went through. I laughed, I cried, I nodded along understandingly, and I cried some more. I wept with J0hnny and Max died. I liked to read about her many triumphs, setbacks, and thoughts about her stays in the hospital. The author really explored the feelings, the thoughts, and the mindnumbing blandness that makes up a hospital stay. The only thing to criticize w I wish that I could say that I read this book in one sitting, but I can't. I had to take numerous breaks to process all that this young lady went through. I laughed, I cried, I nodded along understandingly, and I cried some more. I wept with J0hnny and Max died. I liked to read about her many triumphs, setbacks, and thoughts about her stays in the hospital. The author really explored the feelings, the thoughts, and the mindnumbing blandness that makes up a hospital stay. The only thing to criticize would be the overwhelming amount of attention that she devoted to her failed relationship to Will......I felt that her going on and on and on about it AFTER her remission was just a bit too much and detracted from her overall story. Overall, I think more and more people should read this book, to fully understand what it means to be a patient with a life threatening illness. Thank you to Netgally and the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for this honest review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jill Reads

    Wow. This is a fantastic memoir about a young woman who must overcome cancer and learn to live life again in the “real world.” It’s about Suleika Jaouad who falls in love and is on a quest to find herself after graduation. But then she has to navigate a brutal leukemia diagnosis and treatment. And then try to heal after losing everything. Suleika is a brilliant creative writer and I didn’t want to put the book down. It read like a movie script or a contemporary fiction novel. It’s THAT good. “Be Wow. This is a fantastic memoir about a young woman who must overcome cancer and learn to live life again in the “real world.” It’s about Suleika Jaouad who falls in love and is on a quest to find herself after graduation. But then she has to navigate a brutal leukemia diagnosis and treatment. And then try to heal after losing everything. Suleika is a brilliant creative writer and I didn’t want to put the book down. It read like a movie script or a contemporary fiction novel. It’s THAT good. “Between Two Kingdoms” is raw, funny, compelling, insightful and inspiring. The title of “two kingdoms” refers to the two lives lived… between being ill and being well. And how you never know when you’ll travel back and forth. It definitely packs and emotional punch and I highly recommend it! A big thank you to Random House for granting my wish on NetGalley and for gifting me a digital copy in exchange for my review.

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