Beautiful Affliction by Lene Fogelberg
Published by She Writes Press on September 15th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Family & Relationships, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal Memoirs
Lene Fogelberg is dying—she is sure of it—but no doctor in Sweden, her home country, believes her. Love stories enfold her, with the man who will become her husband, with her enchanting surroundings, and later, with her two precious daughters. But despite her happiness, the question she has carried in her heart since childhood—Will I die young?—is closing in, threatening all she holds dear, even her sanity. When her young family moves to the US, an answer, a diagnosis, is finally found: she is in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. But is it too late?Unflinchingly honest and often harrowing,Beautiful Affliction is an inspiring account of growing up and living on the verge of death—and of the beauty, harshness, loneliness, and, ultimately, unbending love that can be found there.
Today’s review is another book from the BookSparks’ Fall Reading Challenge I joined this year. You’re probably tired of hearing this, but here’s the story anyway: I was able to skip the “freshman” year (last year’s challenge) and jump right into the “sophomore” year for this year’s challenge, I’m now on the BookSparks “class” called Anatomy & Physiology in the Memoir Department (which I know you figured out means this book).
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this book because I chose not to read the back cover of the book or any other written information on the book. I wasn’t even sure which “class” it fell under for my #FRC2015 challenge.
The author, Lene Fogelberg has crafted a literary and beautifully compelling story about a mysterious ‘monster’ that is destroying her health and yet defies all medical attempts to find a cause. I had no idea about the health care in Sweden and the unavailability of doctors for months on end. It was very interesting to follow her story beginning at age 6 when they dismiss any potential issues as a non-threatening “heart murmur” which, left untreated and undiagnosed for nearly three decades, almost killed this woman. As she attempted to receive medical treatment, the doctors ended up convincing her she was a hypochondriac rather than look into the possibility of her really having anything wrong.
I think about all the years she endured feeling so sick, quietly enduring a heavy chest, being tired unable to live a zestful life, not even knowing how good she could feel. Inside though, she knew – not exactly why she wasn’t well, but she knew something – some monster – some “riddle” – was killing her. Slowly. I am glad Lene chose to share her story with the world. Her story and the way that it was written is incredible.
Although this isn’t held out to be a Christian memoir, I can certainly see God’s hands hard at work in Lene’s story. Her husband was transferred to the United States for his job and they were able to secure an immediate doctor’s appointment for the original purpose of obtaining driver’s licenses in the US. One thing leads to another, the heart issue is discovered, she is properly referred for additional medical testing so that she can receive treatment. Her life is saved for herself, for her husband, and for her two little girls. Had she stayed in Sweden, this would not have been the case for Lene. This is another one of those God miracles loudly testifying to the world that He is at work. Moving from Sweden to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resulted in Lene’s life saving open-heart surgery and saved her life.
Growing up in a small town on the Swedish West Coast, Lene Fogelberg developed a love of poetry and reading, nurtured by the enchanting surroundings of her childhood; deep woods, fields, and ocean.
Always curious, Fogelberg has embraced opportunities to study and live abroad, in France, Germany and the USA. Shortly after moving to the US it was discovered, by luck of circumstances, that she was in the last stages of a fatal congenital heart disease. Within weeks she underwent two life-saving open-heart surgeries and began the long battle of recovery. Now she is well and grateful for every day with her husband and two daughters.
An award-winning poet in Sweden, Fogelberg has always felt drawn to writing in English and switched language when writing the memoir Beautiful Affliction, published by She Writes Press, September 2015. Beautiful Affliction is a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards, category Autobiography/Memoir.
I received a complimentary paperback copy of this book from the publishers and BookSparks in exchange for this post, which is my honest review and unbiased opinion.