Saving Charlotte by Pia de Jong has been one of my favorite (non-fiction) reads this so far this year. It follows Pia, a young mother in Amsterdam, Netherlands through her journey through motherhood, focusing particularly on her third child's first year of life, as her baby was fighting a terminal illness. Before you click out of this because it seems all too depressing, I'll give you the same spoiler alert that the back of the book offers: her daughter is alive and well today. Somehow seeing her photograph on the back of the book with her daughter offered me the encouragement to read their journey, because I knew that somehow she would make it.
Reading through this book was so interesting, not only because of the bravery and strength this mother had to care for her sick baby while also caring for two toddlers, but because of the illustration of Amsterdam she drew for her readers. The book begins with their move into a home on a canal which sounds so picturesque to my American mind, but also offers the darker side of things, like the prostitute across the street and the angry disheveled neighbor trying to chase away her customers. The author depicts these personalities so eloquently, and even befriends them, they become some of the best characters in the book.
Pia's journey through her child's illness seems even more raw and real to me as a mother, for I can only imagine the pain she feels while protecting she offers her children within the four walls of their home. From the moment she receives the diagnosis of her newborn daughter's illness, Pia is a pillar of strength and a protector of her daughter. She bravely takes her daughter home (much to the surprise and dismay of the hospital and staff) and cares for her in the way she feels her daughter needs. I loved that. I loved the way she knew, instinctively, that she wanted to care for her daughter at home instead of watching her lay in a hospital bed. She spent so much time in that year protecting, feeding and caring for her sweet sick baby that she refers to her house as a cocoon--an illustration that I felt so fitting and inspirational.
As their journey continues and improves, I found myself invested in this child's wellbeing, as well as impressed and inspired by the strength Pia offers as a mother and caretaker. Through her trusting her own instincts and caring for her daughter, I learned that it sometimes women truly do know their children better than anyone else, and it sometimes can save their lives. Saving Charlotte is worth the read, and this tale of motherhood is a true inspiration.
I was lucky to find this book at my local library, however it is also available through Amazon via this link. For additional information check out Pia de Jong's website, or watch her youtube video below.
Let me know if you read it!