• Between Two Kingdoms

  • A Memoir of a Life Interrupted
  • By: Suleika Jaouad
  • Narrated by: Suleika Jaouad
  • Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (3,722 ratings)

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Between Two Kingdoms  By  cover art

Between Two Kingdoms

By: Suleika Jaouad
Narrated by: Suleika Jaouad
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Publisher's summary

New York Times best seller

A searing, deeply moving memoir of illness and recovery that traces one young woman’s journey from diagnosis to remission to reentry into “normal” life - from the author of the Life, Interrupted column in The New York Times

One of the Best Books of the Year: The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, The Rumpus, She Reads, Library Journal, Booklist

“I was immersed for the whole ride and would follow Jaouad anywhere.... Her writing restores the moon, lights the way as we learn to endure the unknown.” (Chanel Miller, The New York Times Book Review)

“Beautifully crafted...affecting...a transformative read.... Jaouad’s insights about the self, connectedness, uncertainty and time speak to all of us.” (The Washington Post)

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 23rd 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.

©2021 Suleika Jaouad (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“A beautiful, elegant, and heartbreaking book that provides a glimpse into the kingdom of illness...Suleika Jaouad avoids sentimentality but manages to convey the depth of the emotional turmoil that illness can bring into our lives.” (Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies)

"Here is the key to Between Two Kingdoms - Jaouad’s disarming honesty. There is no self-pity in this telling and few of the expected pieties....Jaouad is writing about a process, a back-and-forth. In the tension between health and sickness, past and present, a new balance must be forged.” (Los Angeles Times)

"I want to describe Suleika Jaouad with words like ‘courageous’, ‘resilient’, ‘vulnerable’, and ‘inspiring’ - but I understand that, for cancer survivors, these words can feel like empty clichés. The problem is, these words are true. Suleika Jaouad is courageous, resilient, vulnerable, and inspiring. And her memoir about her cancer journey is a work of breathtaking creativity and heart-stopping humanity. Jaouad’s story goes where you never expect it to go - not only into the depths of her own pain and lost years, but into the spirits of countless strangers (sick and well) she meets along the highway of own her life and illuminates with rare generosity and grace. This is a deeply moving and passionate work of art, quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. I will remember these stories for years to come, because Suleika Jaouad has imprinted them on my heart.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love)

“Jaouad’s book stands out not only because she has lived to parse the saga of her medical battle with the benefit of hindsight, but also because it encompasses the less familiar tale of what it’s like to survive and have to figure out how to live again.” (NPR)

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