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Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition

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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 protecto 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 the standard medical protocol for Charlotte’s type of leukemia. 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.


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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 protecto 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 the standard medical protocol for Charlotte’s type of leukemia. 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.

30 review for Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Ladd

    Every chapter reads like an essay on experiencing the unknowns of grief and of hope. This is not about medicine and diagnosis but this family’s journey and how they weather it together.

  2. 5 out of 5

    L T

    A very quick read for me but that shows how much I enjoyed the book. Saving Charlotte is a true story. Charlotte is the third child of a family with 2 little boys. 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". Throughout the book, I marveled at where they lived( I could not understand living next door to a bro A very quick read for me but that shows how much I enjoyed the book. Saving Charlotte is a true story. Charlotte is the third child of a family with 2 little boys. 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". Throughout the book, I marveled at where they lived( I could not understand living next door to a brothel), nor could I understand how calm the family appeared with their decision to do nothing for Charlotte. I don't know what I would do in a similar circumstance, however thinking of the devasting effects of chemotherapy, maybe I would choose the same. The characters were all well written so much so that I could see and hear them. The story is sad but empowering. It might give hope to other families with ill children, but I know it made me feel blessed to have had healthy children and grandchildren.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Biography #14 of my Library Biography challenge. Quick Read I was pretty excited about this book because I found the premise interesting and of course, I have a Charlotte of my own. I was somewhat disappointed by the book. The author starts by describing their family home and the coming of her first two children. Once Charlotte arrives, deJong does not directly deal with her emotions and how they handle Charlotte's experience. Instead deJong mostly speaks through dreams and short conversations wit Biography #14 of my Library Biography challenge. Quick Read I was pretty excited about this book because I found the premise interesting and of course, I have a Charlotte of my own. I was somewhat disappointed by the book. The author starts by describing their family home and the coming of her first two children. Once Charlotte arrives, deJong does not directly deal with her emotions and how they handle Charlotte's experience. Instead deJong mostly speaks through dreams and short conversations with those who visit. Much of the story surrounds the neighborhood in which Pia & Robbert raise their children. Pia deJong writes well but I just didn't feel connected or inspired by her writing. She also doesn't give much information, the book is mostly about the motions and feelings of living through a sickness.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bogaard

    Read the book. It was especially interesting to me because of the Amsterdam location. The neighborhood where the family lived definitely had it's unique in habitants. Shows how those we might have dismissed really became strong support for the mother and the family as they struggle through this first year of Charlotte's severe illness. A reminder once again "you can't judge a book by its cover" - God uses the unexpected to work in our lives and bless us. Also give credit to the parents for decid Read the book. It was especially interesting to me because of the Amsterdam location. The neighborhood where the family lived definitely had it's unique in habitants. Shows how those we might have dismissed really became strong support for the mother and the family as they struggle through this first year of Charlotte's severe illness. A reminder once again "you can't judge a book by its cover" - God uses the unexpected to work in our lives and bless us. Also give credit to the parents for deciding they're going to get through this together when so many couples are torn apart during a child's trauma. I don't know that the main character does, but I give credit to God for the healing of Charlotte.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    3.5 stars. I was drawn to this book from the time I first heard about it, and it was certainly an emotional read. The pacing was tedious for me at times; I personally felt that the endless descriptions of the author's dreams during her daughter's illness got a little repetitive, though I do appreciate her unique way of processing grief. The book felt like it jumped around a bit and had a tough time keeping focus. In the end, though, I did feel warmth for the various strange people who had provid 3.5 stars. I was drawn to this book from the time I first heard about it, and it was certainly an emotional read. The pacing was tedious for me at times; I personally felt that the endless descriptions of the author's dreams during her daughter's illness got a little repetitive, though I do appreciate her unique way of processing grief. The book felt like it jumped around a bit and had a tough time keeping focus. In the end, though, I did feel warmth for the various strange people who had provided emotional support to this family during their time of sorrow, and I wept during the last pages as the author wrote her concluding remarks. In short? Not without its flaws, but still worth the read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pam Coon

    This is the story of a delicate baby girl, born to Pia de Jong in a 17th century canal house in Amsterdam's old quarter. Pia is a wonderful writer and the reader is swept into her family's life, her husband Robert, and their two young sons, full of energy and love, the home itself (its multi-stories become alive with the noises of the little boys), and the people around their rundown neighborhood. The reader will notice Pia's warmth in accepting her next door neighbor (a prostitute), the old man This is the story of a delicate baby girl, born to Pia de Jong in a 17th century canal house in Amsterdam's old quarter. Pia is a wonderful writer and the reader is swept into her family's life, her husband Robert, and their two young sons, full of energy and love, the home itself (its multi-stories become alive with the noises of the little boys), and the people around their rundown neighborhood. The reader will notice Pia's warmth in accepting her next door neighbor (a prostitute), the old man across the street who tracks her every movement and also lovingly cares for his very, very elderly mother, and the near-by park caretaker who shows kindness to every child who crosses his path. Charlotte is the baby girl and she is born with a blue spot on her spine which soon begins to multiply. A visit to the nearby hospital results in the devastating news that she has a very deadly form of leukemia and the only known treatment is chemotherapy. But Charlotte is but days old, and the outcome for most babies born with this is death, with or without chemo treatments. So Pia and her husband decide to reject the chemo and take Charlotte home to love and nurture the best they know. It is at home that Charlotte is surrounded by love from everyone around her, and eventually to even the sweet neighbors who embrace her with visits and small gifts. It is in this loving environment that sickly baby Charlotte begins to grow stronger. This is a story of survival: Charlotte's fight, and her mother's fight. And miraculously, survival wins.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a powerful memoir that reads like a novel. I can only imagine what Pia felt when she was told her newborn child would die well before her first birthday, could die in days or even weeks. The baby's cancer could be treated, but the treatments were not tolerated well, the success rate was low, and the baby would probably die anyhow. This mother had the courage to say no to the treatments and allow her daughter's body to heal on its own. I would not recommend such a decision except under th This is a powerful memoir that reads like a novel. I can only imagine what Pia felt when she was told her newborn child would die well before her first birthday, could die in days or even weeks. The baby's cancer could be treated, but the treatments were not tolerated well, the success rate was low, and the baby would probably die anyhow. This mother had the courage to say no to the treatments and allow her daughter's body to heal on its own. I would not recommend such a decision except under the those circumstances in which Pia and her family was facing. She was blessed in that her daughter experienced spontaneous remission without chemo. With chemo, the child probably would have died from the side effects. Her husband was amazing in his unconditional support for her and his belief in her intuition. What an amazing family! I won this book through GoodReads!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. When Pia de Jong's 3rd child is born they discover that she has a rare form of leukemia. The chemo is very hard on newborns and prognosis is grim so Pia and her husband decide not to have her treated and instead bring her home for as long as they can, though Charlotte does visit the doctor weekly. This is a memoir of the first year of Charlotte's life when they were afraid she would not live to see her 1st birthday. The de Jong's lived in Amsterdam at the time, and it was interesting to learn ab When Pia de Jong's 3rd child is born they discover that she has a rare form of leukemia. The chemo is very hard on newborns and prognosis is grim so Pia and her husband decide not to have her treated and instead bring her home for as long as they can, though Charlotte does visit the doctor weekly. This is a memoir of the first year of Charlotte's life when they were afraid she would not live to see her 1st birthday. The de Jong's lived in Amsterdam at the time, and it was interesting to learn about the culture and neighborhood they lived in. They somewhat isolated themselves as they waited to see what would happen with Charlotte, and it was so sad to read about the preparations they made for the worst. Luckily it's not a total tear jerker!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Donia

    Poetic memoir from a mothers perspective, how she survived living with the deadly illness of her newborn baby daughter. There were parts of this memoir that were lovely and brought me to tears; poetic. Other parts were extremely obscure and I don't know if clarity was lost in translation or in the writing but they were so obscure that I skimmed page after page. Parts of this memoir I would give 1 star because there was such obscurity; but in the end I'll give it 3 stars for the beautiful passage Poetic memoir from a mothers perspective, how she survived living with the deadly illness of her newborn baby daughter. There were parts of this memoir that were lovely and brought me to tears; poetic. Other parts were extremely obscure and I don't know if clarity was lost in translation or in the writing but they were so obscure that I skimmed page after page. Parts of this memoir I would give 1 star because there was such obscurity; but in the end I'll give it 3 stars for the beautiful passages that it contains in some sections. I found the focus on the neighborhood of the most interest . I found the dreamy sections about "Sammy" to be confusing and unfocused and it was this view that lessened the book for me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    Honest raw drew me right in Pia de Jong gives birth to her third child her beautiful daughter Charlotte .From minutes into her birth the midwife notices a blue mark on her back &from that moment Pia knows something is wrong with her daughter. Pia&her husband make a radical decision about her treatment.This lovely family their close neighbors even the neighborhood prostitute who unknown to Pia lights candles for the baby each night at the church.With all the dark in this book their is Pia her won Honest raw drew me right in Pia de Jong gives birth to her third child her beautiful daughter Charlotte .From minutes into her birth the midwife notices a blue mark on her back &from that moment Pia knows something is wrong with her daughter. Pia&her husband make a radical decision about her treatment.This lovely family their close neighbors even the neighborhood prostitute who unknown to Pia lights candles for the baby each night at the church.With all the dark in this book their is Pia her wonderful husband&their two children to tell this real life drama,Highly recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Libbydale

    This is a wonderfully written memoir. I like De Jong's succinct writing style that also paints the picture. I can see their house, the neighborhood, and their children and neighbors. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a memoir about mothering an infant, having a sick child, has lost a child, or who simply enjoys engaging memoirs. Its not too long. Its a quick read. I'm enjoying it. I received a prepublication copy from Goodreads Giveaways. I believe the book is available now or soo This is a wonderfully written memoir. I like De Jong's succinct writing style that also paints the picture. I can see their house, the neighborhood, and their children and neighbors. I would recommend this book for anyone who wants a memoir about mothering an infant, having a sick child, has lost a child, or who simply enjoys engaging memoirs. Its not too long. Its a quick read. I'm enjoying it. I received a prepublication copy from Goodreads Giveaways. I believe the book is available now or soon (July)!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tracey A. Stark

    This book was sad and yet empowering. The characters were so real and believable. It strengthens the belief that Mother's know their children best. You don't really know if Sammy is real or was just her self coping mechanism. I would highly reccommend this book to all parents. It will give strength to those with ill children, and let parent's of healthy children realize their blessings. Reccommended for all parents!! This book was sad and yet empowering. The characters were so real and believable. It strengthens the belief that Mother's know their children best. You don't really know if Sammy is real or was just her self coping mechanism. I would highly reccommend this book to all parents. It will give strength to those with ill children, and let parent's of healthy children realize their blessings. Reccommended for all parents!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Beautiful writing. Hard to put down. Loved it. "Here is what I know. It is August. I have a daughter. Her name is Charlotte. She sleeps in the crook of my arm, where she pinches a nerve. It hurts, but I don't care. She still lives, she still breathes. I can still smell the sweetness of summer in her hair. It's real, here and now, and for that very reason I let myself be embraced by her scents. I try to become her smells." Beautiful writing. Hard to put down. Loved it. "Here is what I know. It is August. I have a daughter. Her name is Charlotte. She sleeps in the crook of my arm, where she pinches a nerve. It hurts, but I don't care. She still lives, she still breathes. I can still smell the sweetness of summer in her hair. It's real, here and now, and for that very reason I let myself be embraced by her scents. I try to become her smells."

  14. 4 out of 5

    Renee Priddis

    True story. Not sure about the title ‘saving charlotte’ (the daughters name is Charlotte and she lives however did they save her? no, God did) and what initiation their was except of doing nothing. More about how a mother copes with a cancer stricken baby. The story takes place in Amsterdam and the Neighborhood where the family lived definitely had unique neighbors for an example a hooker across the way.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sjalotjemaria

    2 days it took me to finish this book. I took it everywhere to read it. I loved how Pia took me with her in her one year cocon journey and how she took care of Charlotte and her boys. How she was in contact with her neighbours and what the social contact during this cruel time made her survive. She took me all the way, I felt her grief, her insecurities, her sadness, lonliness. But also her happiness and the need to live in a cocon for this year. Just loved it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Margit

    Received an ARC for review. Despite the title, the book was not about saving Charlotte or the power of intuition but it was about a mother and how she copes with a possibly terminally ill child for the first year of the child's life. It speaks to any woman who is a mother and has gotten up in the middle of the night to watch her baby breathe. Received an ARC for review. Despite the title, the book was not about saving Charlotte or the power of intuition but it was about a mother and how she copes with a possibly terminally ill child for the first year of the child's life. It speaks to any woman who is a mother and has gotten up in the middle of the night to watch her baby breathe.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I thought I would really like this book, but the writing was so detached and unemotional that I found myself not really caring about the family one way or the other. You would think that a book about a baby with leukemia would be touching or scary or heartwarming or SOMETHING, but this was just a big fat nothing.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    A baby is born..something is not right. Her parents do not follow the hospital orders. They choose to live in a shady part of Amsterdam, and make friends with the street people. The tension is thick, and one wonders where the story will go. Life is precious. One day at a time. I wish that every child could have parents like these.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dena

    I think this could have been a better book. I just didn't like the approach. I feel like I know nothing really about the family. It was just how the mother dealt with the illness of her daughter, you didn't really get to the know the husband or the other children and how they dealt with things.. It just left me wanting more. I think this could have been a better book. I just didn't like the approach. I feel like I know nothing really about the family. It was just how the mother dealt with the illness of her daughter, you didn't really get to the know the husband or the other children and how they dealt with things.. It just left me wanting more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    S.G.Radonsky

    a good read. A different style of writing. I like that she brought in different characters surrounding her immediate concern of her daughter's illness; the prostitute, the holocaust survivor, the bookstore owner, the baker each brought into play an important aspect of the mother's survival. A supportive husband - wow. I am happy that Charlotte survived! a good read. A different style of writing. I like that she brought in different characters surrounding her immediate concern of her daughter's illness; the prostitute, the holocaust survivor, the bookstore owner, the baker each brought into play an important aspect of the mother's survival. A supportive husband - wow. I am happy that Charlotte survived!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    Some say Saving Charlotte is a sad book. I believe Saving Charlotte is an inspirational book of courage, hope, and love. This book was hard to read at times until I realized Saving Charlotte was like reading someone's personal diary. I'm glad I read Saving Charlotte! Some say Saving Charlotte is a sad book. I believe Saving Charlotte is an inspirational book of courage, hope, and love. This book was hard to read at times until I realized Saving Charlotte was like reading someone's personal diary. I'm glad I read Saving Charlotte!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    Ok book. Not exactly sure what I felt about this mothers struggle to keep her daughter alive. I am sure it took insurmountable strength to not proceed with any treatments. I found it hard to relate to her grief.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kara Morgan

    Books that are Translated to English always read a little differently. I felt that in this book but I did not struggle with it as much as I usually do. This is an intimate story about motherhood and tragedy and resilience.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alissa

    This was a sweet and touching book. It would have been nice to have had a little more science included though. How often does cancer just go away? I can see parents whose children have cancer really latch onto stories like these, and in most cases it won't work out this way. This was a sweet and touching book. It would have been nice to have had a little more science included though. How often does cancer just go away? I can see parents whose children have cancer really latch onto stories like these, and in most cases it won't work out this way.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marilynn Balcauski

    Such a sweet (and terrifying) and beautiful story of motherly love. The unusual setting and cast of characters in the Amsterdam neighborhood add a strangeness to the story that makes the family seem eccentric at the least, but Pia de Jong's style is endearing and relatable. Such a sweet (and terrifying) and beautiful story of motherly love. The unusual setting and cast of characters in the Amsterdam neighborhood add a strangeness to the story that makes the family seem eccentric at the least, but Pia de Jong's style is endearing and relatable.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Akers

    This one was a little slow for me for some reason, but it’s an inspiring true story of hope. If you’ve ever loved a child who required you to make unthinkable decisions and live as much as possible in the present moment, you’ll very much relate to the author’s story.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Debby

    Interesting story. I found all the dream sequences rather confusing. I'm puzzled by all the books I seem to come across that relate many long dreams. I don't understand why they tell me about these dreams. Just strange. Interesting story. I found all the dream sequences rather confusing. I'm puzzled by all the books I seem to come across that relate many long dreams. I don't understand why they tell me about these dreams. Just strange.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Signora

    Touching memoir of a mother's year of anticipating the death of an infant daughter from a rare, terminal leukemia. Having only experimental treatment available to them, they opt to not treat her but see how she does on her own. Touching memoir of a mother's year of anticipating the death of an infant daughter from a rare, terminal leukemia. Having only experimental treatment available to them, they opt to not treat her but see how she does on her own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    SPButler

    Thought the book would be more about Charlotte. Instead, they basically refused chemotherapy treatment for her leukemia and the book became about the author's childhood memories, the "clever" things her two other children said and her neighbors. Not at all what I expected. Thought the book would be more about Charlotte. Instead, they basically refused chemotherapy treatment for her leukemia and the book became about the author's childhood memories, the "clever" things her two other children said and her neighbors. Not at all what I expected.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    This is a Goodreads win review. This is a book about A mother caring for her baby with a rare disease. Good but a little sad.

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