Video: Pia de Jong talks about the amazing story behind “Saving Charlotte”
When her newborn daughter Charlotte is diagnosed with a rare and deadly leukemia, Pia and her husband Robbert make a momentous decision: they reject potentially devastating chemotherapy and instead choose to “wait for what will come.” As the following year unfolds, Pia enters a disorienting world of doctors, medical procedures, and a colorful cast of neighbors and protectors in her native Amsterdam. Her seventeenth-century canal house becomes her inner sanctum, a private “cocoon” where she sweeps away distractions in order to give Charlotte the unfiltered love and strength she needs. Pia’s instinctive decision, now known as “watchful waiting,” has become another viable medical option in many cases like Charlotte’s.
This deeply felt memoir reveals the galvanizing impact one child can have on a family, a neighborhood, and a worldwide medical community. Vivid and immersive, Saving Charlotte is also a portrait of one woman’s brave voyage of love, of hope, and, in its inspiring climax, of self-discovery.
“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.”
— Richard Preston, author of The Wild Trees and The Hot Zone
“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 intuition—to watch and wait. Miraculously, Charlotte survived—and in the crisis, de Jong found her life’s calling as a writer. Saving Charlotte is her luminous account, trembling with fear—but also with hope—of one extraordinary year.”
— Annalyn Swan, Pulitzer Prize–winning coauthor of De Kooning: An American Master
“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.”
— Sheila Kohler, author of Once We Were Sisters