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My Foreign Cities

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  378 Ratings  ·  76 Reviews
Growing out of a spellbinding “Modern Love” column in the New York Times, a fresh, wrenching story of young love and mortality.

As a teenager, Elizabeth Scarboro imagined an adventurous future for herself in which she would live all over the world, and settling down was out of the question. But then she fell in love with Stephen: brilliant, infuriating, living with cystic f
Hardcover, 296 pages
Published April 8th 2013 by Liveright
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Jo Ann
Feb 04, 2013 Jo Ann rated it really liked it
You would think, since I knew the author's husband died of cystic fibrosis after their marriage of 10 years, that my heart would have been more prepared. Not so. My heart hurts...and the only thing I can relate the feeling to is that of a balloon, gently blown up with tenderness and empathy, but expanded by that tenderness to the point of breaking. Elizabeth Scarboro took me on a journey of love and understanding and surprise as she wrote of the sometimes bumpy, sometimes exquisite, times she an ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Sydna rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, nook
Having CF, this book hit very close to home for me. It was poignant, sad, funny and insightful. In some ways it was like reading my life story, and in others a foreshadowing of things to come. And yet in other ways I thought "wow, I'm so very very thankful and so very very lucky to have the lungs I have and to have made it this far in life with CF." I have no idea what comes next in this journey with CF, but it was an endearing read and I enjoyed getting the perspective of someone who lives with ...more
Kelsey Weatherford
Oct 27, 2015 Kelsey Weatherford rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Scarboro’s memoir My Foreign Cities is an impressively open view into her fascinating and heart wrenching marriage. Stephen and Elizabeth met as teenagers and their friendship eventually turned into a relationship that they would relish for years to come. The only problem is that Stephen has cystic fibrosis, a chronic illness that means he is only expected to live to about thirty. The book explores all the typical ups and downs of a marriage but also focuses on the underlying struggle ...more
Mar 25, 2013 Roxane rated it really liked it
Moving, intelligent, beautifully controlled emotion in one of the more interesting memoirs I've read.
Jul 17, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
I adore memoirs and this one was beautifully written, not overdone, and completely heartfelt.
Apr 28, 2013 Patricia rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
Finished this book during a bout of insomnia the night after my computer crashed. I was already in the loss arena so reading Scarboro's frank description of her brief marriage to man who had cystic fibrosis drenched me in sensations of grief. Don't get me wrong. This couple knew how to play and have a good time despite a debilitating illness. I especially enjoyed the scenes that revealed them at play or joking in the hospital. I also appreciated that fact that Scarboro posited typical marriage d ...more
Jul 21, 2014 Jean rated it liked it
Once again I would not have picked this had it not been recommended by the Chautauqua Literary Society. It was an interesting memoir and I was happy that I read it. Would I have chosen it on my own? Probably not. I am not a big fan of memoirs per se but this one kept my interest and even brought me to tears. I do recommend it…especially if you know someone with CF.
I picked this book up on a whim from the new books section of my local library. I love memoirs, especially when they're written by what I call "normal" people, ie, not someone famous or well-known. So I was drawn to this book, but it languished on my library book shelf while I caught up on things due more quickly.

I delved into this book this morning with my coffee -- and hours later, I have finished it. I was able to put it down just long enough to feed myself and to prepare something for an upc
Aug 21, 2014 Joanne rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with this book, and with Liz and Stephen. It was a life changing read, really puts things into perspective about life and love. It's one of those books you end up missing when you're done. It was just so beautifully written, and I came to care about Liz and Stephen so much that I miss them now that I've finished reading the book.
I had no clue about this book, it was just a random find while browsing aisles at the library, but I am so grateful for this book!
Tosha Sisler
4.75 - I'm not usually drawn to tragic books or books about illness. I am living with chronic illness myself and therefore get enough of these things in my own life. However, this book, and more specifically, this author, are being awarded a literary award at Chautauqua Institute this week and I wanted to read the book before I heard the author speak.

As someone with chronic illness, I am glad that I read the book. As Scarboro briefly mentions in the book, my experience with this illness and my
Gabrielle Lemma
Jan 07, 2015 Gabrielle Lemma rated it really liked it
This book was the most honest book that I've ever read. It wasn't necessarily a book I could connect with due to experience. Instead, I could connect because of how ubiquitous the lessons were and how her emotions were so clear.
This books takes everything we assume to be simple in life like being happy, being yourself or even having a job and challenges it. I felt that Scarboro was trying to explain the extent of all of the simple things in life. How long can we be happy? How long can we be ou
Lauren Meiss
Apr 08, 2013 Lauren Meiss rated it it was amazing
The emotion in this memoir is just right- pulls you in before you even notice the tears streaming down your face, but doesn't drown you in forced sentiment. Wow. If you want some insight into a life touched by CF, a must read. Simply stunning.
University of Chicago Magazine
Elizabeth Scarboro, AB'91

From our pages ("Releases," May–June/13): One summer in Boulder, Colorado, 17-year-old Elizabeth Scarboro fell in love with her high school classmate Stephen, who had blond shaggy hair, a leaned-back walk, and cystic fibrosis. Although her boyfriend was expected to live only until age 30, Scarboro chose to embrace the relationship, and the couple eventually married. In this memoir, the author traces the ten years she spent with Stephen before his death of CF compli
Jun 18, 2014 Mary rated it really liked it
The beginning of this book was a little light in content and made me wonder why it was chosen to receive the Chautauqua Prize 2014 - in fact I forced myself to keep reading. But it seems that the beginning of the book was just "setting the table" for the complexity of events and twists and turns that occur later. I have a much better understanding of cystic fibrosis and the impact on the life of the CF patient and the people who love him. But beyond that basic take-away, I appreciated the reflec ...more
Kay Carman
Feb 23, 2016 Kay Carman rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Scarboro writes of her teen years when she first loved her husband Stephen, deciding whether to commit herself to him and his struggle with cystic fibrosis (which they know will inevitably end in an early death), or take another path. They had ten years together, which included a lung transplant in his late twenties, before he died at thirty.

Several sentences from the front flap that especially capture the content are, "As time goes on and trouble looms, the dangers of Stephen's illness consume
Dec 28, 2014 Shaylynn rated it really liked it
Elizabeth tells the true story, of losing her first husband. From the very first page all I could think was, "please tell me he lives.. tell me he lives.." But isn't that what we all want? A happily ever after, within the stories that we spend part of our lives reading?

But I knew, because I have a best friend, she has Cystic Fibrosis, and it will end her life prematurely. So a part of me read this for peace of mind, the other curiosity for how she survived it. How they both did.

Elizabeth writes
Elizabeth Severance
Apr 17, 2014 Elizabeth Severance rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
This was the week to read this book for me. Coming up to the one year anniversary of becoming a 29 year old "widow" myself. Most of it is writing about her experience with him and CF and hospitals, but it's the last 100 pages or so that was for me. I spent the evening reading and sobbing. And while part of me could just keep crying and crying, part of me feels a little more at peace, (though thinking that makes me tear up all over again). There were parts that were good for me to read and good f ...more
Jul 19, 2013 Catalina rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 09, 2014 Georgann rated it it was amazing
I wish I had read Elizabeth Scarboro's columns, MODERN LOVE. The love that she writes about in this memoir is true and tragic and blessed all at once. To marry someone who has a terminal illness or to be married to such a spouse is hard to imagine. But Scarboro has given us all a roadmap for living and loving. I understand this book was honored by the Chautauqua Institution and that was my recommendation to reading it.
Monica Wesolowska
Aug 04, 2014 Monica Wesolowska rated it it was amazing
This is a lovely book, a young romance. How appealing. That the narrator's highschool sweetheart has cystic fibrosis and will die young not only drives the narrative forward but gives the narrator herself her appealing zest for life. She takes us right through the end of this romance and into her second marriage with honest insights that resonated fully with me.
Apr 09, 2015 Lola rated it liked it
The story of Scarboro's relationship & marriage to Stephen who had cystic fibrosis. It seemed he was sick all the time & ended up getting a double lung transplant. Stephen & Elizabeth were only married for four years when he died of complications of the illness. He was 30 years old. Sad.
She got remarried & had two children.
Feb 05, 2014 Adelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
I need a way to make this show as more than five stars. It is outstanding. It is written beautifully and the story is both joyful and heartbreaking. Elizabeth Scarboro is one of my new favorite authors. I can only humbly thank her for sharing such a close, intimate, and deeply meaningful part of her life with her readers.
Jan 06, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it
Simultaneously great and heartbreaking. This biographical true story of young love, modern medicine and Cystic Fibrosis are the main elements that weave this story together. The determination that Stephen demonstrates and then old soul wiseness that he acquires from his myriad of hospital encounters at a young age are noteworthy and will make me think twice about what to do the next time someone I know is in the hospital.

This book will make you sincerely appreciate it if you didn't once have to
Heather Colacurcio
Apr 26, 2013 Heather Colacurcio rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Elizabeth Scarboro was just a teenager when she met and fell in love with Stephen. Their love was strong, but Stephen's health was weak; afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis, it was unlikely that the love of her life would live past age 30. Scarboro recounts what daily life was like for her and Stephen, delving into the difficult realities that accompany a relationship flagged by illness, a love with an inevitable, premature end. This is a heartfelt memoir, but Scarboro never sugarcoats her life with ...more
Jan 30, 2015 Em rated it really liked it
To give you just a quick blurb- this book is the adult memoir version of The Fault In Our Stars.

But the honesty of Scarboro's memoir is somehow more striking.

My frustration with this text is that it doesn't treat mental illness with the same respect as it does the CF (although this is more a frustration with the ingrained culture then the author herself).
Judith Mayer
Sep 01, 2014 Judith Mayer rated it really liked it
Quite a story. At first I wasn't sure I would like her style but I did. I feel that she captured what it was like to be living that life. Her husbands attitude was amazing but they still had to struggle in their relationship and who they were.
Cheri Monsen
Feb 28, 2014 Cheri Monsen rated it really liked it
Going into this story knowing what happens to Stephen, and the life expectancy of CF patients I found myself sobbing as Liz described his last couple of weeks, and then navigating the feelings that go with being left. It was a good read.
Jul 09, 2016 Joanna rated it liked it
3.5. This straightforward illness and grief memoir is worth reading for the couple's uniques perspective on time. It stretches and shrinks with their experience and she explains it in a very thoughtful way.
Stephanie Downing
May 28, 2013 Stephanie Downing rated it really liked it
Elizabeth fell in love with Stephen: intelligent, full of opinions, and living with cystic fibrosis. Stephen always claimed his life expectancy at thirty years, Elizabeth embraced another sort of adventure--simultaneously joyous and heart-wrenching--choosing to stay with Stephen and live an entire marriage until his early death. Scarboro's story, told in intimate detail, from both accounts it seems, reveals the whole picture realization of her youthful marriage to her high school sweetheart. Its ...more
Feb 21, 2014 Carmen rated it liked it
I had difficulty connecting to this book. It is the story of a couple's lives when the man has CF. They met as children, eventually became a couple, and battled his disease together.
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Elizabeth Scarboro is the author of two children’s novels and a winner of the Olga and Paul Menn Foundation Prize for fiction. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and two children.
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