Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition

When Pia de Jong gave birth to her third child, a girl, it was apparent from the start that something was wrong with her. When de Jong pressed on her daughter's back, a blue spot appeared, "the color of a lake in a remote forest around noon." Soon, there were more spots and the child was diagnosed with a rare, dangerous, most often fatal form of leukemia.

Saving Charlotte is de Jong's tender memoir of the first anxiety-filled year of Charlotte's life, when de Jong and her husband, Robbert, made the decision to wait and see rather than start an aggressive form of chemotherapy, which easily could have killed their newborn. Suddenly de Jong's life compressed into a tiny world: weekly doctor's visits; tending to Charlotte as well as two healthy sons; their house on a canal in Amsterdam and the park she frequented where her boys could play. In lyrical prose, de Jong details the thoughts and emotions that swallowed her that first year, memories of her own childhood and the antics of her sons. With finesse, she blends these with the stories of her quirky neighbors: the prostitute across the alley whose bedroom is visible from the house; the park attendant; the man who protects the alley; and the older gentleman across the canal with whom she had tea and wine. The tension and anxiety that threaten de Jong and her family are happily overshadowed by the extreme love this mother feels for her child. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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