Genre: Non-fiction, Memoir
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Publisher: Zest Books
Regine’s blog about living with Leukemia gained a huge following, and eventually became this book. She writes openly about emotional and physical aspects of her 15-month struggle to recover, and explains how her disease impacts her life. In the course of her illness, Regine has photography exhibits, goes to concerts, enjoys her friends & family, and advocates for registering as a blood and bone marrow donor. She was a typical teenager with an amazing will to live; and the lessons she learned have relevance for all of us. She died at home on December 3, 2009 with her family and cat by her side. Originally published in Norway, the book was selected by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture for a translation grant. Norwegian sales are as follows: 30,000 copies hardcover (May – Dec 2010); 17,000 copies paperback (Jan – Sept 2011)
I won a hardbound copy of this book from a giveaway last December. I was excited and hesitant at the same time because non-fiction is not really my cup of tea. So despite the great reviews on Goodreads, Regine's Book was sitting on my bookshelf for almost a month unread. Until I needed a break from Harry Potter a few days ago.
The first part of the book was mostly explanation about Regine's disease, which is AML or acute myelogenous leukemia. I'm not going to pretend I understand any of the technical terms in this book.
But I understand that having leukemia -- any type of leukemia -- is not a good news.
Regine put her thoughts and feelings about being sick into her blog. At first, there were a lot of times when I felt detached from her words. I wasn't able to grasp what she was saying. It felt unreal. But when the disease progressed, that's when I connected with her. It was so sad reading her experiences of being sick. This shouldn't happen to someone so young and kind and beautiful. And yet, I found Regine very brave in face of her sickness. She still managed to be herself even while the cancer was eating away her strength. She faced her fear. Yes, she also had a lot of downs. She was sometimes angry, bitter, scared, frustrated, disappointed, but she always regained herself. I admired her being honest and brave, going through all that and giving people a glimpse of what it was like to have a leukemia. Her words and her art inspired people. She lived eighteen years on earth but she lived a fuller life than most people older than her. Her life was inspiring and beautiful.
I did not cry until reaching the last part, The Last Autumn. This is where Regine finally succumbed to cancer and died peacefully beside her family. It was heartbreaking reading the letters of the people who loved her. I cried especially hard on what her mother and her sister wrote. I couldn't even imagine their pain on losing Regine, and yet I bawled my eyes out as if it personally happened to me.
It was really ironic thinking that I'm not really into non-fiction books but the few ones that I read are all so good and always made me cry. Regine's Book is one of those. I know Regine would be very proud that her dream of releasing a book was a success and that her words touched a lot of people's hearts. I know they touched mine.