Regine’s Book

Regine's Book9781936976201_p0_v1_s260x420.jpbRegine’s Book: A Teen Girl’s Last Words

Regine Stokke, Author

Zest Books, Nonfiction, Oct. 23, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 14 and up

Themes: Leukemia, Living with a Serious Illness, Courage, Teen Memoir, Blogging, Photography

Regine Stokke was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in August 2008, a few days after her 17th birthday.  The diagnosis was a big shock for this Norwegian teen who felt like her “life had been shattered.”  Shortly after her diagnosis, she decided to blog about what it was like to live with a serious illness and how it affected her life.  She wrote about the countless painful biopsies and blood tests, chemotherapy and hospitalizations.   There were days she was very ill and ready to give up and times of hope when donors were found.  Her life was an emotional roller coaster and took its toll.  She shared her deepest feelings and fears of dying.  Regine was surrounded by her loving family, friends and community who were of tremendous support and brought some normalcy to her life.

She received her bone marrow transplant in January 2009.  Her life began to improve.  There  were times when Regine felt well enough to pursue her love of photography and painting and exhibit her work.  She attended concerts and movies, went shopping and went to restaurants with friends.  She celebrated her 18th birthday on Jun. 6, 2009 with  two parties.  She visited children with cancer in the hospital to lend her support.  In between, there was good news and bad news.  Regine never lost sight of the fact that what was most important to her was living in the moment and her relationship with family and friends.  She loved life and had no intention of giving into her illness.

In October 2009, she received some bad news that her medications weren’t working and the aggressive cancer cells were back.  She wrote, “I’ve been crying nonstop today…This wasn’t supposed to happen.  The last time I met with the doctors we discussed the future, and talked about when I could start taking classes again — and now all of a sudden, it looks like I’m going to die.  Things changed so fast, and I don’t understand anything.  This is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.  Going through something like this is just absolutely brutal.  No one deserves this… I think about my family having to go through all of this.  It’s so awful to think about.  It’s not just my life that’s being ruined.”

Meanwhile, what started out as a blog with a few followers, rapidly grew to thousands of followers daily.  Because of her articulate and soulful accounts, she touched the lives of many people in her country and worldwide.  Readers sent Regine words of love and encouragement.  Regine’s own written words became this beautiful book about her remarkable journey and a life lived.  The book is interlaced with family photos, her photography and  heartfelt comments from friends and people who followed her blog.  Her  last blog entry was December 1, which resulted in 6,700 reader comments.  Regine made a peaceful transition on Dec. 3, 2009 at home surrounded by family members.  After her death, her parents, Lasse and Julianne Stokke found a beautiful poem (undated) on her computer:

My path has only one direction

There are no signs

And there is no map

It’s impossible to go to the left or the right

It’s impossible to turn

I can only go straight ahead

But the road is crooked

It’s neither light nor dark in front of me

There’s fog

And no one knows what

Will be found on the other side

Why I like this book:  This book is as real as it gets!  Reading her words are almost sacred.  It is an honest, gut-wrenching, raw, powerful and inspirational story told in Regine’s own words.  Although Regine only wanted to be ordinary, she was extraordinary.  Throughout all that she endured, she shared her day-to-day ups and downs of living with leukemia with others through her blog.  She  continued her dreams of being a photographer and exhibited in her work at both 2009 and the 2010 Nordic Light photographic festivals in Kristiansund, Norway.  And, she became a strong advocate for cancer patients.  She urged people to register as blood and bone marrow donors.  In those short 15 months, Regine accomplished a lifetime of work.  Regine’s book sold over 30,000 hardback copies in 2010 and over 17,000 paperback copies in 2011, before it was translated from Norwegian into English.  The book is beautifully presented as a piece of art.  The book was printed on a heavier paper to display all of Regine’s photographic work, which runs throughout the book.  It is a book filled with so much love and grace.

I won this book  from the publisher, Zest Books, on Amanda’s Born Bookish blog.  It was so compelling that I wanted to share Regine’s story.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

28 thoughts on “Regine’s Book

  1. Oh my, Pat! This is such a moving, heart wrenching story. Your review brings depth to this inspiring tribute to a young girl. It was hard to hold back the tears. Interestingly I was only earlier thinking of what someone said at the LA SCBWI about writing what you know, be honest, kids need to know life is not all roses.
    Oh I must look for this one. Thank you for sharing it and for your wonderful review.

    • Diane, it is inspiring book that shows so much courage as you watch her fight for her life and then acceptance at the end. She blogged sometimes daily or weekly depending upon what has happening for her. I think all of Norway embraced her in love, cheered for her and wept with her. Her poetry is inspiring, her photography so beautiful!

  2. This sounds like a poignant & thought-provoking read. Can’t imagine what the young woman and her parents went through. That poem is beautiful.

    • Nessa, it is a thought-provoking. To be a healthy teenager living life to its fullest to suddenly receive news that you have a serious illness, is indeed a wake-up call. She quickly realized that all she has was living each precious moment. There is beauty throughout the book.

    • Erik, the book is a compilation of all her blog posts. What I didn’t mention is that the book is broken into seasons, significant of the cycles of life. The book was so popular in Norway, it was translated into English and published.

  3. Pat,
    You sure can write an amazing review! The story is powerful and shows us all how to have courage. Thank you for highlighting this book for us.

  4. What a testimony to life she left! I would love to read this book and pass it on to others who need to read what she wrote. Thanks for the review!

    • Amanda, I’m glad you saw the review. I couldn’t put the book down. Thank you for introducing me to her story! I’m going to donate my copy to the library as I want others to have the opportunity to read her story. Perhaps others will find courage, peace and inspiration from Regine Stokke.

  5. Thank you so much for this review – just hearing about Regine’s extraordinary journey moved me, especially about the ways she used creativity to heal her spirit, even though her body wasn’t able to recover. And how wonderful that her photography and words are still inspiring others.

    • Susan, I am so pleased you found Regine’s journey extraordinary. I dealt with three family deaths in a period of 10 months; one was a grandson who was a casualty of war. And yet throughout everything that hapened, I found myself becoming an observer of the love, grace and beauty that surrounded my family. It felt like a beautiful sadness that left me in awe. So, this book was particularly moving to me. Yes, it is sad. But I think the message is far greater. Regine really is a reminder to us that we need to live our lives to the fullest. In a way she was a teacher to so many people. Thank you for stopping.

    • I am glad you liked the review. It was a privilege to share Regine’s story with readers. It was perfect for my website and followers. I will donate the copy Zest sent me to my local library, so others may read her story. They usually order other copies for their branches.

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