A Memoir For a Quarter Life Crisis: Reviewing Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad

I’m always thankful for books that manage to find their way to me at the perfect time. I’ve been an avid reader since I first learned and the universe never seems to fail me when I need a story to find its way to me. At 24, I’ve spent most of my life shifting between crisis mode and terrifying periods of time where things feel okay which obviously means that everything is about to fall apart. Right now I’m battling with another terrifying period of time because I’m taking major steps forward but am waiting for the little bad things to take over my life once more.

Living with and learning to cope with the effects of trauma is overwhelming. It takes a lot of work and oftentimes it can make you feel completely hopeless. When your life gets turned upside down and you spend your entire existence simply finding a way to survive to see another day by the time you’re back to a point where you could even attempt to find “normalcy” it may feel impossible. Between Two Kingdoms is a heart wrenching look into this exact type of journey.

At 22, Suleika Jaouad’s world turned upside down after being diagnosed with leukemia. Over the years she used her writing to cope with her battle with cancer as well as her battle to find a way to understand where her life had taken her when she went into remission and no longer has to spend all of her time focusing on survival. The memoir that she crafted about her journey was not only beautifully written but also heartbreakingly honest and relatable. Though our experiences with trauma are quite different I felt like Suleika had pulled things from my own thoughts and journals as she relayed her own.

Suleika has a powerful voice and it was clear to me that she poured her emotions into the pages of Between Two Kingdoms. Trauma is a beast and reading about how she fell apart and slowly began putting herself back together was incredibly relatable. The inspiration for the title comes from how the world seemed to be split between the kingdom of the “sick” and the kingdom of the “well”. Despite ending up in remission, Suleika struggled with making her way back to the kingdom of the well which is what ultimately sent her on her road trip to try and heal.

She was marooned between these two kingdoms because she was grieving both the life she would never live as well as the people she lost along the way. While it was heartbreaking to see her become aware of how her illness effected everyone in her life I appreciated the self awareness throughout the latter portion of the book. When we are suffering it’s hard to understand that our illnesses be they physical or mental have consequences. Personally I’m still trying to cope with how my struggles over the years have changed every aspect of my life.

Overall I couldn’t recommend this memoir more. Through a heartbreakingly honest portrayal of healing Suleika gave readers a message of hope. We currently exist in a world where too many people have experienced trauma, grief, and illness. Especially now as we all still navigate what has happened with COVID I think this book could be a benefit to many. Now more than ever it’s important to realize that we are not suffering alone. Our lives have changed and if you’re still in a period of just making sure you survive another day know I’m proud of you for fighting.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Between Two Kingdoms you can find it at the following:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // Or find a local indie shop at IndieBound

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: nihilisticactus

Readerly: sideofadventure

Add me on Goodreads here

Email for review requests: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

The Books That Shaped Me: Part 3

I honestly thought that I would only be doing one post for this series but the more that I thought about all the books that have meant so much to me over the years, the more that I realized there were way more than could fit into one post.

Part 1 consisted of the books that I read throughout elementary school. Part 2 was all the books that I read throughout middle school. And now this post, Part 3, is going to showcase all the books that I read throughout high school. There could possibly be a Part 4 someday with books that I read in college (my first attempt at college anyways) but I’ll have to see, I might also lump a few of them into the end of this post because there really weren’t many that I read. Homework kinda got to me and I avoided reading so much!

So high school was when I discovered BookTube and Goodreads. I joined Goodreads in November of 2011 when I was a freshman.

Books by Sarah Dessen

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Her books are some of my favorite YA contemporary books and whenever I need something happy to read I pick up one of hers. I haven’t read all of her books yet but I’m working on it. She and Maureen Johnson are two of my absolute favorite authors and I will probably buy every single one of their publications from here on out.

The Top 8 series, which then turned into my love for Morgan Matson starting with Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

I don’t even remember why I got the Top 8 series, I’m sure I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble, looked inside, liked the formatting and then bought all of them. But the Top 8 series were written under Matson’s pen name, Katie Finn. I’m not even sure when I found out that Finn was Matson but I remember being absolutely shocked because I had had books under both of her names for years before ever realizing.

Dystopian Books: Hunger Games, Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent)

I would honestly be shocked by anyone who was into reading from around 2012-2014

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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Her books introduced me to graphic novels! And boy did I reread Smile so many times, like I would be genuinely interested to see just how many times I checked it out from the library back then before I owned my own copy of it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Oh good ole TFIOS. I don’t think I could make a post about books I read in high school without mentioning this gem. This was also the first ever signed book that I owned and I literally shrieked and danced around my kitchen when I saw that that’s what my grandma had managed to purchase.

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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My sister bought this book at a local bookstore in the town that my grandparents live near. After she read it, I picked it up and I loved it. I’ve read both this book and her second book and I’m so glad that I liked them because I love having the opportunity to support a Minnesotan author.

It took me a really long time growing up to get into horror things. I mean, I used to be terrified by the show Ghost Hunters and either had to leave the room or put on headphones to block out the noise. I was scarred pretty early on in life by the movie Arachnaphobia and while I’m still terrified by spiders, other horror stuff doesn’t really scare me anymore. I love the spooky stuff.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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This was one of the only classics that I was forced to read in high school that I genuinely enjoyed. The story sticks with me even to today and there are just so many quotes from this that make me feel all the feels.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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And this one is not on here for a good reason. I HATE this book, like it is one classic that I genuinely despise. I usually dislike classics for one reason or another (most of the time being that I have the hardest time reading them) but I actually have a deep seated hatred of Great Expectations. I’m now kind of fuming right now just thinking of it and almost want to write an entire blog post dedicated to my hatred of this book.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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I read this book so that I could write a paper about it in my tenth grade English class. I have absolutely no recollection what that paper was about but

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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One of the first books I’ve ever read where I saw myself. It hurt. It’s still absolutely everything to me.

Anna and the French Kiss/The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight/My Life Next Door

I also started to get really into YA contemporaries when I was in high school. I bought Anna and the French Kiss at a Borders Books store on the way back from New York one summer (does anyone else fondly think of Borders? I might like it too much because I don’t have any access to small book stores and I’ve never been a big fan of Barnes and Noble). I even saved the sticker from AatFS because I wanted to preserve the last Borders purchase I ever made.

Anyways, I very quickly fell in love with the contemporaries that I read. The idea of having an open ended happy ending just made my heart happy. I devoured happy endings as much as I could, breaking my own single little heart time and time again. I pretended that they taught me a lot about what I wanted in relationships and in guys.

So overall, my reading in high school was full of contemporaries, classics (forced reading), and dystopian. I definitely started to hone in on my favorites and began to read a bit more critically than I had in the past.

Now that I’ve written about a lot of the books that have shaped my reading and myself over the entire course of my life, I’ve started to think about a new series of posts. I would really like to start rereading some of the books featured on these posts and discuss them now. Why I loved them when I first read them, why I still love them today (or not love them depending), and if they still hold up today. I’ll preface it all by saying that I almost always fail with my post series though so we shall see how far this idea takes me.

What were some of your favorite books in your teenage years?

 

History Book TBR

So I’m a bit of a history junkie. I feel like a lot of people find this surprising about me or even strange but I am sort of obsessed with history! If I were to guess, it would probably be due to all my exposure to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books when I was growing up and playing pretend with my sister. I was always Mary and she was Laura and I think that plays such a huge role in why I love history so much. Another book that really threw me into that realm was this book called The Green Glass Sea which was about two girls who had parents that worked on Project Manhattan during World War II. Oh and I can’t forget about the influence that Oregon Trail must have played into this too! (I feel like not surprisingly but pioneer times and world war II are two of my favorite parts of history now).

Today I’m going to be sharing a bunch of the historical books that I have on my TBR list at the moment.

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

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The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

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Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

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The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell

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I feel like there are definitely other books that I could add to this list but I’m being too lazy to look them up. If you have any recommendations of historical nonfiction I’d love to hear them! I’m always looking for new books within this genre to read.

I’m actually currently reading Testament of Youth, I bought it two years ago while I was in London at one of the many museums that we went to and I figure since I’ve had it that long I really should be reading it now. Hopefully I’ll be making a post about that soon and if I do I’ll link it here.

Anyways, happy Monday everyone! I hope your week starts off well.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon