Saving Charlotte is simply a beautiful book, impossible to put down, clear as a jewel and flawless in its depths. Pia de Jong writes with incredible grace and an eye for unforgettable details that glow in our minds long after we’ve finished the book. She’s famous in the Netherlands for her work, and now I see why.”
What could be more life-shattering than being told that your newborn baby has a deadly leukemia? That awful news was delivered to young mother Pia de Jong. But rather than subject her infant daughter to devastating chemotherapy, she decided to follow her intuitionto watch and wait. Miraculously, Charlotte survivedand in the crisis, de Jong found her life’s calling as a writer. Saving Charlotte is her luminous account, trembling with fearbut also with hopeof one extraordinary year.
A book about courage, about hope, about life with all its paradoxes and complexity. Carefully structured and beautifully written in spare, precise, and resonant language, Saving Charlotte conveys all the heartache, all the vulnerability, all the great joys of fighting for a child’s life.”
Very powerfulalmost too emotionally hard to read in some places. Pia de Jong’s writing makes me think of the 19th century American luminist painterslit from withinand even more of Vermeer.
Gorgeous . . . A ravishing reminder of life's mysteriesand miracles.
Poetically and dramatically written. . . . A beautiful tale of family medical distress and reprieve.
Tender . . . lyrical prose.
[A] compelling memoir. . . . De Jong movingly describes the work of nursing her daughter back to health, and sketches the Amsterdam neighborhood . . . that seems to cocoon the struggling family.
A mother recounts a year in her family's life as they confront their newborn's devastating diagnosis.In 2000, Dutch novelists de Jong's third child was born with a strange bump on her back. A skin biopsy revealed that the baby had congenital myeloid leukemia, an exceedingly rare disease for which there was no standard treatment protocol. Her sympathetic pediatric oncologist could offer only chemotherapy but cautioned that it was so harsh that it might cause blindness, infertility, or death. Stunned, de Jong and her husband, Robbert, decided to forgo that option. The author quietly conveys the couple's sense of desperation as they returned to their home in a seedy section of Amsterdam to watch and wait. She took a leave from her job to care for her infant and two young sons, determined to nourish, protect, and love the baby for whatever time she had left. At the hospital for her daughter's bone-marrow biopsy and at weekly visits to the oncologist, de Jong observed the terrifying world of childhood cancer: pale, skinny children weakened by chemotherapy, hollow-eyed parents frustrated by their powerlessness. She felt as if she had entered a "portal of death." At home, they were supported by a motley assortment of neighbors: a friendly young prostitute working out of a brothel across the street; an eccentric man living with his aging mother; another man who grew sicker each day. All offered sympathy and prayers. In contrast, people she hardly knew, impelled by "morbid curiosity disguised as empathy," intruded with shocking, sometimes bizarre, remarks. After one disturbing visit, de Jong dug "a deep moat around our house" and "pulled up the drawbridge." Since watching and waiting do not in themselves yield a lively narrative, de Jong shares details of family outings, childhood memories, and surreal dreams. In one, she is running home with her children on streets made of quicksand. Happily, readers know from the start that this story ends well. A tender evocation of fear, hope, and love.