My Foreign Cities: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Scarboro


My Foreign Cities: A Memoir

By Elizabeth Scarboro

Liveright, 2013

304 pages

This debut memoir is a moving love story—chronicling a young woman in love with a man who has a chronic, life-threatening disease.

Liz and Stephen date in high school, where the book begins, but they go off to different parts of the country for college. Their connection perseveres, and although Liz dreams of living overseas after college, instead she moves to San Francisco to be with Stephen. Stephen has cystic fibrosis (CF); chances are slim he will live past 35. If she does not move towards him at this point in her life, she might not get another chance. Travel will be there later. And so they grow up together, in the Bay Area and Boston, and Scarboro does a masterful job chronicling both their love and the challenges of living with, and loving someone, with CF. Although Stephen lives a fairly “normal” life, he struggles with his health and shortly after Liz moves to San Francisco both of his lungs collapse. She deftly recounts Stephen’s stays in the hospital, consultations with doctors and what it means to consider a lung transplant. Together they go through the ups and downs of his disease, and even when life is stable, Stephen is in so much pain that he eventually becomes addicted to painkillers. Through it all, they make a life together.

This is sad story, but Scarboro beckons the reader into her life and heart in such an open way that by the end of the book I felt like she and Stephen were my friends, and I fought back the tears as I knew his end was near. This story is also a window into human hope, the resiliency of the human heart, and what we will do to stay alive, and keep our loved ones alive. And although this is at times a difficult read, and possibly not for those who have any kind of medical anxiety, I was completely drawn in to this beautiful book.

Scarboro has published novels for children and continues to live in the Bay Area. Library Journal listed My Foreign Cities as one of the best memoirs of 2013 and the SF Chronicle put it on their top 100 list for 2013. She recently published an essay in the Huffington Post about being a widow.

I downloaded this book and read it on my Kindle. Thanks to JW for telling me about this amazing memoir!





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5 responses to “My Foreign Cities: A Memoir, by Elizabeth Scarboro

  1. louise crawford

    sounds like a most moving and thoughtful book I’m sure hard to read, but I was moved by your reaction to the story.

  2. Ellen

    I loved this book. Thank you, Kate, for recommending it. I cried the whole way through but it was worth it as such a rewarding read. A true love story but certainly no fairy tale. I loved that the imperfections in the relationship were never sugar coated. Such an honest read.

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