Author: Suleika Jaouad

Publication Date: February 9, 2021

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Book Description

In this searing memoir of illness and recovery, an Emmy Award-winning writer traces her journey from diagnosis to remission, and ultimately her cross-country road trip of healing and self-discovery.

In the summer of 2010, Suleika Jaouad had just graduated from college, 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 migrating up her legs—like a thousand mosquito bites. Then came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only seemed to deepen her fatigue. Then came 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 was engulfed in flames. By time she boarded a plane home to New York, she had lost her job, her apartment, and her independence. She would spend much of the next four years confined to a hospital bed, fighting for her life.

When Suleika finally walked out of the hospital—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 she had no idea how to live.

Suleika 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 had also spent years confined in a room. What she learned on this trip is that the divide between the sick and the well doesn’t really exist. It is porous, and 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, inspiring exploration of what it means to begin again.

Book Review

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.

About the Author

Suleika Jaouad (pronounced Su-lake-uh Ja-wad) is the author of the instant New York Times bestselling memoir,Between Two Kingdoms. She wrote the Emmy Award-winning New York Times column “Life, Interrupted” and has written reported features, essays and commentary for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Vogue, and NPR, among other publications. A highly sought-after speaker, her mainstage TED Talk was one of the ten most popular of 2019 and has nearly four million views. She is also the creator of the Isolation Journals, a community creativity project founded during the Covid-19 pandemic to help others convert isolation into artistic solitude; over 100,000 people from around the world have joined.

Born in New York City to a Tunisian father and a Swiss mother, Suleika attended The Juilliard School’s pre-college program for the double bass, and earned her BA with highest honors from Princeton University and an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College.

Suleika’s career aspirations as a war correspondent were cut short when, at age 22, she was diagnosed with leukemia. She began writing her New York Times column “Life, Interrupted” from her hospital room at Sloan-Kettering, and has since become a fierce advocate for those living with illness and enduring life’s many other interruptions.

Suleika served on Barack Obama’s Presidential Cancer Panel, the national advisory board of the Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation, and the Brooklyn Public Library’s Arts & Letters Committee. She was awarded the Red Door Advocacy & Community Service Award, and has been an artist in residence at Ucross, ArtYard, and the Kerouac Project.

Suleika travels the world teaching workshops and speaking, and she was an Anacapa Scholar in Residence at the Thacher School and a lecturer in the Narrative Medicine Program at Columbia University. She has appeared on the Today Show, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, the Paris Review, the Los Angeles Times and Glamour, among others. 

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Between Two Kingdoms

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