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Week 1: Between Two Kingdoms, Chapters 1-5

woman under furry blanket in bed

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. Read our participants’ reactions and follow along with us each week as we read through the book! Caution, spoilers below!

By Coleen S.:

I was excited to start reading this book, and I got drawn into it right away. I could really identify with Suleika when she started to experience symptoms of leukemia. She ignored them, she didn’t have the time or energy to deal with them, and (most familiar) because her friends said they felt exhausted too, she blamed herself for not being able to handle the demands of life as well they could. But Suleika’s exhaustion was different and deeper. It’s something that’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t felt it. 

I kept willing Suleika to go to the doctor, to get checked, to advocate for herself, and to trust that she knew her own body. But of course, that’s not how the story goes, especially for people who are considered (and also consider themselves) “too young” for cancer. And so instead of a timely diagnosis, Suleika collapses before she takes herself seriously and has doctors take her seriously. What I don’t understand at this point is how her boyfriend didn’t notice that something was truly wrong. After not seeing her for several months, it sounds like she looked dramatically different and not healthy. Why didn’t he see something and say something?

By Sarah H.:

Reading Suleika’s experience prior to diagnosis I can relate in some ways. That fatigue, some mysterious symptoms-some of the things you look back on after diagnosis and think, was at an early indication? Questioning if your fatigue is the same as everyone else or if it’s “because you’re a young mom” or whatever reason a doctor gave you when they did not know what was wrong and thinking you just can’t handle it. While I did not have such severe signs or early indicators, I can’t imagine having such strong symptoms and being able to carry on as long as she did before getting some answers. In all honesty, these chapters gave me anxiety knowing what was coming and how it feels to hear it! 

We will talk about a few chapters each week until the book is done. Once we finish the book, we’ll have an online book club discussion on Zoom to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss on November 3rd. Join in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us! Excited about the next book club? Have any suggestions for future reads? Let us know!