Beautiful Affliction: A Memoir

Beautiful Affliction: A Memoir

by Lene Fogelberg


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Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with her husband, her two precious daughters, her enchanting surroundings, but the question she has carried in her heart since childhood— Will I die young? —is threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an answer, a diagnosis, is finally found: she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. But is it too late?

A young woman risks everything to save her own life in this “unusual, riveting medical drama crafted with deep emotion and exquisite detail” (BookPage).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631529856
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 09/15/2015
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 1,256,853
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Lene Fogelberg is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, an award-winning poet and double open-heart surgery survivor. Born in Sweden, she currently lives with her family in Malaysia. Learn more at

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Beautiful Affliction: A Memoir 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
EMTrav More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. Seriously, everyone. Beautiful Affliction is incredibly well written but it is so much more than that. The story reaches out and grabs you. It touches your heart and your life. It is about how even when we are at our worst, life is still beautiful and worth living. Lena shares, very openly, her struggle with her failing heart while she tries to live her life and be the woman she most wants to be. And despite setback after setback she is able to maintain an appreciation for life. Lena's story inspires me. It will inspire you as well. You will need a box of tissues.
Laura_at_125Pages More than 1 year ago
Oh you guys! This, this is the memoir I have been wanting to read. Beautiful Affliction is so powerful and fluid, this could easily stand as a fiction novel, but the fact that it is a true tale makes it just so much more. When a three line email transcribed in a book makes you tear up, you know you have found something almost magical. While reading I was genuinely concerned that the main character would die. I would then have to snap myself out of it and realize she wrote the book, so very much alive. The writing was that good and that transformative that you will get caught in the moments and not realize you already know the outcome. I have been complaining recently about the lack of depth in the memoirs I have been reading; they seem more like lists and entries in a day planner. This is one that wipes my palette clean and reminds me why I love memoirs. The chance to experience a snapshot of someone else’s life, to live in and experience their world in a powerful way. I think it is an intrinsic part of human nature to be voyeuristic and when you can find a vessel such as this to dip into for a day, you are lucky. So in short, world, pacing, people, tone all fantastic. Go read this. Favorite lines from Chapter 50 – “…their soft hair against my cheek for the last time and their laughter and their steps through the garden and into the blackness jumping from star to star and the threshold is swinging and I have to hold on because if I let go the door will close behind me and there is nothing like this abyss anywhere on earth, the threshold a tiny bridge between endless worlds and the darkness closing in, I have to turn toward the light, the outstretched hand I have to take, you already know, Lene, yes, I know but I was thinking nothing is impossible and I love so very much but now my heart beats for the last time, the last the last the last the last.” I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This 'life altering' story was written with incredible honesty and depth. Difficult to put down. The author brings a profound and loving to her 'life altering' experience. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My Beautiful Affliction is a work of art, a gift. It's the story of a Swedish woman, Lene, who has suffered from heart disease all her life, but it was only diagnosed during a sabbatical in the U.S. If it weren't for that diagnosis, she would have died. She conveys the notion that the clock is ticking, that every breath is laborious, every instant bears a story, brilliantly. She is a fabulous writer and her story is beyond compelling. If she hadn't moved back to Sweden, I would have loved to hang out with her and get to know her better.
JessicaManning More than 1 year ago
My friend emailed me last month with a request to review this book for a friend of hers. I was so busy and told her that I wouldn't be able to do it for a little while and thought that was the end of it. Luckily for me, my friend had her friend send me the book anyways. I didn't really know anything about the book and I will be honest...when I received it I was not too excited to be reading a memoir. They just aren't my usual read. But I decided to give it a try since I told my friend I would and I am so very glad I did. This story was amazing and had me from the very first page! Lene Fogelberg has always known there was something wrong with her body. She always felt that she would die young. Her mother took her to a doctor when she was six and she was told she had a heart murmur but would never have to worry about it. Being born and raised in Sweden, Lene didn't have the same health care system that we have here in the USA. There were no well child exams every year or physicals for school. Once the doctors told her she was okay, that was the end of it. As Lene grows older, every breath is a struggle. She tires easily and can't do what a normal kid or young adult can do. She knows deep down that there is something wrong but she fights to make her body work for her. She gets married and has two children. She fights every day to be a good mom and a good wife but you can see the toll it takes on her. After she moves to the US with her family, she finally gets the answers that she seeks. The answers are frightening but Lene will do what it takes to be strong and make it for her family. This book was so beautifully written. You could feel Lene's helplessness and depression as she was told over and over that she was fine and there was nothing wrong with her. This book was so riveting that it had me up into the wee hours of the night reading because I simply couldn't put it down. I had to know how Lene was going to survive. She is such a strong woman and I was simply amazed at her perseverance. This book will make you believe in miracles. It will restore some faith in humanity. It will make you want to send it to everyone you know to read. It was really just that good! A HUGE thank you goes out to my friend Marie and her friend, Angelica, for sending me this book for review. It will forever have a place on my bookshelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A powerful and touching memoir. Lene writes with such intense emotions and feelings, that I couldn't put the book down. Her words compelled me to read and laugh and cry through her beautiful story. The strength and courage of Lene are amazing and the love of her family is touching. She has an amazing ability to draw you into her thoughts and the intense struggle she has with the secret inside her. This memoir is touching and beautifully written, a must read for anyone as a reminder to love those close to you, and take pleasure in the beauties around you.
Holly More than 1 year ago
Beautiful Affliction is the true story of Lene Fogelberg and her battle with her heart. Being born and raised in Sweden, Lene is told all her life that whatever she is feeling is not real and she is making it up but when her husband, Anders gets transferred to Philadelphia, she discovers how wrong they were. With her heart valve as small as it was, Lene should have never had her 2 girls or flew overseas and with this new found information, it becomes a race to get her heart fixed before something bad happens. When the big day comes to get her heart fixed, Lene wanted to go home but is glad in the end that she got it fixed even with all the problems she had to go through in order to survive. I loved how this book went back and forth in the chapters from present day to in the past when she meets Anders and when she starts noticing something wrong. I just couldn't get over how bad Sweden was in cases like this when who knows how many people could have been saved if they received the proper care like they should have. Lene's journey is one for the books, she truly is a survivor! Thank You to Lene Fogelberg for telling your story so the world can know. I received this book from the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful and inspiring memoir. I couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story is beautiful, tragic, heartbreaking, miraculous and uplifting! Lene's writing is poetic and honest. I was reminded of the fact that life is a precious gift as are our bodies, the keeper of our spirit. A beautiful reminder!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We know, of course, that Lene Fogelberg pulls through. That’s not the point. The point is that in her memoir Beautiful Affliction, we journey with her through the nearly constant, terrifying, painful symptoms that follow her from her native Sweden to the United States, where she ultimately discovers she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. With exceptional detail, Fogelberg brings readers into her head as she struggles to breathe, to raise her two daughters without letting them know she is sick, and to navigate her homeland’s healthcare system that takes too long to figure out what’s wrong. I’m a fan of the flashbacks she uses to show how far back she had to deal with her condition. As early as the first chapter we are seeing the world—and the doctor’s office—through her eyes as a young girl: “I know what that is, it’s a stethoscope, my mom told me earlier.” Back and forth from the present to the past, we also learn about her relationship as she tries to acclimate to Philadelphia (where her incredibly supportive husband, Anders, has been transferred for work) while homesick and convinced—for a long time without a diagnosis—that she is dying. Those who have been hit with dire medical news can relate to remembering the smallest details; in Fogelberg’s case, the ceiling fan spins and a cat paw through the grass in the backyard. And parents will be able to sympathize when Fogelberg, insisting her girls “live in the security of having their mamma with them forever” until the moment she stops breathing, acknowledges with a heavy heart that she has just lied to preserve healthy appearances. These are the types of details that keep a reader hooked. The questions behind the logic of her condition, the doubts about her sanity, the attempts to find meaning behind the seemingly meaningless. It all resonates deeply and powerfully through a story about living on the verge of death—and then getting a chance to live differently.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This. Book. Even long before it existed, I wanted to love it. Several years ago, my mother-in-law (who knows Lene’s mother) told me about Lene’s move from Sweden to Philadelphia, and how it resulted in her life saving open-heart surgery. Even back then, Lene’s story gave me chills. And then several months back, I heard Lene had written a book about her life journey. A fellow writer! A fellow writer, who is also a Swede living abroad! I had to investigate this girl. One visit to her blog later, and I knew I’d stumbled onto something – and someone – special. Over the past several months, our online friendship has meant surprisingly much to me. So naturally, I was excited to dive right into Lene’s book the day it arrived on my doorstep. Excited, and also afraid. What if I didn’t like her book as much I wanted? What if my admiration for her and my blind trust in her abilities had created expectations too high for her memoir to live up to? On the very first page, the tension in my shoulders melted. Yes. I knew I was right to trust Lene. This. Book. But I have to be careful. I don’t want to create hype – hype is difficult to live up to, even for a memoir as extraordinary as Lene’s. But. But! If you are anything like me, as you read this book you might be tempted to: -Savor a glass of apple juice, just to make sure it really isn’t the solution to all the world’s problems. -Almost-hug Lene’s heart surgeon. And possibly almost-slap some of her other doctors (on second thought, scratch the “almost”). -Bring out a tape measure, to see just how much scarring Lene had post-surgery. -Count the number of words in that crazy-long sentence that hits you right in the ribs. -Call all your friends and family and ask them how they are really doing and how you can help, because afflictions are difficult enough without the heavy burden of loneliness. -Look up some more Norwegian jokes (I had almost forgotten about those!) The rest is yours to discover, and savor, and above all – feel. At a few points early on in the story, I did feel that Lene and her marriage seemed a little too good to be true, a little too near-perfect (apart from the problems related to her illness, of course). And then I read the next few chapters and I saw and felt her struggle and I thought yes, she is real, and yes, I can relate! Guys, this is Lene’s first book. Her first! I have not yet had any books published, but over the past many years I have stacked up about ten novel-length manuscripts and over a hundred picture book manuscripts. I am trying very hard to not be jealous of Lene’s ability to mesmerize. Lene’s book is a perfect selection for book clubs. And if Beautiful Affliction ends up being the best-seller it has the potential to be, and the whole world begs to be Lene’s best friend, just remember this: I saw her first. This. Book. Yes, Lene almost lost her heart. Perhaps that is why she is so adept at touching ours.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
A memoir that read like fiction and from page one made me appreciate living in a country where healthcare is a priority. Lene grew up in Sweden and as a child was diagnosed with a "heart murmur", but the doctor did not follow up and did not encourage Lene and her family to check back in as she grew. As an adult with two children she gets another check up in the United States and the doctor immediately schedules open heart surgery to fix a valve. I love how this book was set up with alternating chapters, the ones in italics are stories from Lene's past from childhood and through adulthood as she dealt with her unknown condition. The alternating chapters are current times and she has moved to the United States and is headed to the doctor and then diagnosed. I liked that she included stories from childhood thru dating and giving birth to her girls it gave the story some depth and made it feel so much more hole than if she had left that out. If you tend to stay away from memoirs, try this one out, it read like fiction. I am now thankful to have great healthcare and to be a mostly healthy person.