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Between Two Kingdoms : A Memoir of a Life Interrupted
by Suleika Jaouad




Overview -
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - 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.

"A work of breathtaking creativity."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love
"Elegant and heartbreaking."--Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
"Mended parts I thought were forever disintegrated."--Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"A propulsive, soulful story of mourning and gratitude."--Tara Westover, author of Educated

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 countless rounds 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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Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - 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.

"A work of breathtaking creativity."--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love
"Elegant and heartbreaking."--Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies
"Mended parts I thought were forever disintegrated."--Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
"A propulsive, soulful story of mourning and gratitude."--Tara Westover, author of Educated

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 countless rounds 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.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399588587
  • ISBN-10: 0399588582
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: February 2021
  • Page Count: 368
  • Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.36 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Between Two Kingdoms

Twenty-two-year-old Princeton grad Suleika Jaouad was working as a paralegal in Paris when symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia sent her home to Saratoga Springs, New York, to live with her Swiss-born mother, an artist, and her Tunisian-born father, a French professor at Skidmore College. Raised to roam the globe, Jaouad found that her world had suddenly shrunk to a hospital room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she underwent a stem cell transplant and other grueling treatments, which she began chronicling in a New York Times column called “Life Interrupted.” Her engrossing memoir, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted, paints a more complete portrait of her experiences during and after treatment.

Jaouad was supported by her parents and a new boyfriend, who put his life on hold for several years to care for her. The ups and downs of their relationship eventually became fraught. She was also buoyed by other cancer patients her own age, including two gifted, beloved friends, an artist and a poet. As she relates these stories, her honest and reflective voice spares no one, not even herself.

Later Jaouad was stunned to discover that “the hardest part of my cancer treatment was once it was over.” She no longer had her support system, and she felt paralyzed by fear. In an effort to reenter the world after treatment, she set out on a 100-day, 33-state solo pilgrimage to connect with an intriguing array of people who had reached out to her during her illness, including a California mother who had lost her adult son to suicide, a bighearted cook on a Montana ranch and a Louisiana death row inmate named Lil’ GQ. She learned valuable, unexpected lessons from all.

Jaouad’s cancer treatment narrative and travelogue are equally compelling as she deftly mixes moments of grief, anger and despair with joy, gratitude and hefty doses of self-deprecating humor. For instance, as a brand-new driver, the first thing she did when setting out on her journey was drive the wrong way down a New York City street. Not long afterward, she had to look up a YouTube video to help her set up her tent.

Between Two Kingdoms is a thoughtful book from a talented young writer who never sugarcoats or falls prey to false hope. As Jaouad writes, “After you’ve had the ceiling cave in on you—whether through illness or some other catastrophe—you don’t assume structural stability. You must learn to live on the fault lines.” Her message will ring helpful and true to many, regardless of the challenges they face.

 

BAM Customer Reviews