Saving Charlotte
by Pia de Jong
WW Norton

When Charlotte was born to Amsterdam native Pia de Jong in 2000, the midwife was puzzled by a spot on the baby’s body that turned blue under light pressure. More of the blueberry-like bumps appeared every day, and they turned out to be tumours caused by congenital myeloid leukaemia. De Jong and her husband were advised that Charlotte would need chemotherapy, but that survival rates were low and they should prepare for the worst. Instead, the couple chose to “do nothing”. They would take their daughter home and see what happened.

News about the child spread quickly, of course, and family members and the curious visited to console the couple as they began looking into funerals. The thoughtless offered spiritual healing, which de Jong also refused. She was determined that the family would handle the matter privately. But then they learned, through a blog, about a youngster in America with the same rare disease who had gone into spontaneous remission.

Saving Charlotte is a deeply personal account of the year in which the child received no medical care, and one that will divide readers. That is also its strength.