Friday, April 4, 2014

[Review & Giveaway] Regine's Book

In honor of 
National Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week 
happening March 31 - April 6.
 The Reading Vixens have teamed up with Zest Books, to help spread the word. 
We really hope that you take some time to honor someone who has had, have, or survived cancer. 
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Regine’s blog about living with Leukemia gained a huge following, and eventually became the basis for 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 and 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 and became a bestseller there. 

When I first got the opportunity to read this book I was skeptical. The last book I read about cancer absolutely tore me to shreds. As reluctant as I may have been I knew I had to read this courageous girls story. I’m so glad I did. Zest books did such a wonderful job with Henriette Larson on not only the translations but piecing together Regine’s story from her blog. I knew this was going to be a tough read for me, but like the masochist that I am, this book called to me. 

When I was growing up my older sister had Leukemia when she was a child herself. She was a bit older than me, and I didn’t have to experience first hand what she was going through. My sister has now been in remission for over 20years. I don’t remember all the details, since I was so young, but I do remember having to go with her while she awaited the news time and time again to find out if the cancer had come back. A while later, my sister ended up having a tumor, and had to have it removed. The surgery left her without a sense of smell and a constant runny nose, but again – she was in remission. The pain and anguish that my sister had gone through shone visibly. I can’t even imagine how it was for someone like Regine, who had an aggressive cancer. 

“All I want is to live, but I can’t…”

Regine’s book was authentic and raw. The daily battles that she went through while suffering from this incredulous disease is unfathomable to most people. I think having a disease like Regine had; you learn to have a new perspective on life. For instance, we all take so many little things for granted, we abuse such mundane things constantly.  This story is one of bravery, selflessness, absolute love, forgiveness, and understanding.
Regine was strong, independent and full of life. The telling of her story is pure anguish. Not only to you as a reader, but to her as she wrote for other people.  How can you possibly come to terms with your own mortality? I know there is always hope, and hope is one of the defining characteristics of those who don’t give up or give in. I understand what it’s like to be on the other end of a debilitating disease, as I was with my sister and then again with my father. To be as strong and relentless for not only yourself but the people whom you love, and love you as well, I can’t imagine that strength. Imagine how easy it would be just to give in. Now think about how hard it is to mutter up enough strength to continue on, to survive. 

"Why did I take things for granted before? Why did this have to happen before I had a chance to realize how valuable life is? I'm only seventeen. It's so unfair."

I truly admire this young girl for telling her story in such a raw, gritty, uncensored way. Regine didn’t sugar coat anything, she told it like it was. Cancer sucks. The amounts of disappointment this brave young woman went through are rather unbelievable. Her own friends drifted away from her, not because they were afraid to lose her, but because they believed they could catch cancer from her. I don’t want to tell you everything from the book, because then you might not read it!

I honestly adored this book, and I hope that everyone has a chance to read this book, or a book like this. To really know the inner battle within ones soul while they deal with extraordinary tasks is astounding. The photos that were provided in between the pages gave you just that extra personal touch to make you feel as if you were there, going through this journey with Regine.  As you read you get to take a peek into the comments on the blog, even after Regine's battle ended. It’s abundantly clear that people around the world became so invested in Regine's struggle and were so openly affected by the loss of her. Regine’s book is truly inspiring, especially with the never been seen commentaries by friends and families. The testimonies of Regine’s life will live on forever in the hearts of millions. Please take a chance on this book, you’ll love it. It’s absolutely heart-wrenching but it’s well worth it to see into the inner works of battling a debilitating disease such as cancer. I can’t say enough good things about this novel.  I do want to say though, it’s important to reach out to someone who’s going through something as tough as this. Make the person know you truly care. Don’t give yourself the chance to regret not saying what needs to be said. Life is short, for some of us it’s shorter than others. Live every day to the fullest, forgive , learn, and have fun. Don’t let yourself say “I should have...”

"The world is unfair. For those of you who go on to live a long and happy life, I want you to try and give something back to the world. Think of all those other people whose lives are spent in suffering. Give. It's unbelievably important."

Displaying ReginesBook_RegineStokke_Wig_ZestBooks.jpgRegine Stokke began her blog after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia in 2008. Her goal was to paint a realistic picture of what it’s like battling a life-threatening illness—and to share her experience with the world. During the 15 months Regine was sick and to her death she transformed from an average teenage girl, upset that she doesn’t have a private hospital room, to a grateful and humble young woman with a deep appreciation for the beauty all around her. 

Regine’s Book is Regine’s story as it was written on her blog and is supplemented with a selection of photos as well as comments from blog readers and entries from those who loved her most. The book deals with all the facets of living with cancer, from the good days to the bad and everything in between. 

“I’ve been thinking a lot about people who permanently lose their hair,” wrote Regine, who had lost her own hair due to chemotherapy. “Can people actually get used to it? I haven’t. Society today is obsessed with looks. [But] I wore a wig to the hospital today and finally avoided all the stares. That felt good…”

At an age when Regine’s biggest concern should have been what dress she was going to wear to prom, she was worrying about whether or not the wig she’s wearing looks natural and about all the things she may soon be leaving behind. “The fear of no longer existing never goes away,” Regine laments only a few months before her death. “I’m afraid to leave the world and I don’t want to do it. I think about my family, and about my friends. I have to fight for them. I can’t leave them behind with that sorrow. I have to try everything I can, despite how bleak everything looks.” 
It was this incredible hope and love for others that carried Regine through the 15 months of her illness. During this time she also had her photographs displayed in a museum exhibit, attended concerts, enjoyed her friends and family and advocated for others to register as blood and bone marrow donors. Regine’s Book shows her as a typical teenager in a terrifying situation, with an amazing will to live, and the lessons she learned have relevance for all of us. Through her eyes, readers will discover a more vivid world—and a new appreciation for life, art, and the power of the human spirit. 

Regine Stokke was a lover of life—a poet, photographer, blogger, and leukemia patient, who blogged about her devastating struggle with the illness and shared her story with a world of strangers. Originally published in her homeland of Norway, Regine’s Book was awarded the Norwegian Literature Abroad (NORLA) foundation for a translation grant. 

**Henriette Larsen (translator) grew up in Switzerland and the U.S., speaking Norwegian at home. She has fond memories of beautiful summers (but no winters) in Norway. She earned a Bachelor's degree in French Literature from Pomona College and completed graduate coursework in French and Comparative Literature at SFSU. Henriette lives in San Francisco.**

| A little about Cancer |

Cancer affects millions of Americans every year. According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Half of all men and one third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes

  • Leukemia causes one third of all cancer deaths of children and adolescents under 15 years of age

  • 1,660,290 new cancer cases were expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013

  • Nearly 150,000 new leukemia cases were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2013

Most teens likely know someone affected by cancer, but don’t know the details of what it’s like to live day to day with the disease. Regine’s Book tells the intimate story of one teen living with cancer—putting a face on this terrible epidemic and illuminating the importance of becoming a bone marrow donor. 

**For more information about this disease, 

Donate to The LLS by clicking on the photo below.
Zest Books made a donation to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team in Training in Regine’s honor upon publication of her book.

Twitter: Please use the #ReginesBook hashtag! 

Regine's Book at  Zest Books
Regine’s Book on Goodreads
Regine’s Book on LibraryThing

Books can be ordered from these online booksellers, as well as from any bookstore:

IndieBound  |  Amazon  

If you'd like to view the original blog from Regine
 -- it's in her native Norwegian, and can be found here:

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Giveaway made possible by:
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