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My Foreign Cities

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  467 ratings  ·  89 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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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  467 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Jo Ann
Feb 04, 2013 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 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I adore memoirs and this one was beautifully written, not overdone, and completely heartfelt.
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My Foreign Cities is a memoir written by Elizabeth Scarboro. The book is about a couple dealing with cystic fibrosis and how it affects their relationship. What is interesting is how the book is not written from the patient's point of view, but the patient's loved ones. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading. ...more
Aug 21, 2014 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!
Lauren Meiss
Apr 05, 2013 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. ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Moving, intelligent, beautifully controlled emotion in one of the more interesting memoirs I've read.
Elizabeth Severance
Feb 01, 2014 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
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
Apr 21, 2013 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
Kelsey Weatherford
Oct 27, 2015 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
Jul 21, 2014 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.
Michaela Evanow
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Superb writing. Couldn't put it down. She is a gifted writer with a story to tell. The ending did not disappoint. Left me feeling full, blue and still. ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Honest. Open. Spacious and bright. No dust on the countertops, just two bagels and some orange juice in the kitchen, waiting for your lover to wake up. That's how Scarboro's writing makes me feel. Infinitely tender.

This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read! It doesn't just touch on difficult topics, it dives all the way down into them, because she lived this. My Foreign Cities doesn't hide any of the unbearable pain that comes with illness, death and grief, but it also doesn't frame pain in
Janeil Whitworth
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I chose this book for its title rather than its content. As I began I realised the content was very relevant to my life, having lost a brother to CF ten years ago. The story was very emotional and well written and reflected on short life spans and how it affects people around you. I cried a lot reading it and feel it has helped heal yet another wound in the process of loss as well as help me empathise with other family members. Thanks E Scarboro
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely book about love and death. The author's experiences of both with her husband as they live with his cystic fibrosis are richly explored. Her writing style is fluid and thoughtful. I could easily relate her situation to my own and appreciated her wisdom. ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Exceptionally well written memoir, very human—funny, sad, honest.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely amazing!!! I couldn't put it down! ...more
Aug 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book ripped my heart out. It was absolutely beautiful.
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english, non-fiction
absolutely heartbreaking, but somehow in a soft, tender way.
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
Dec 14, 2014 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
Dec 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2014 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
Jan 31, 2016 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
Nov 11, 2016 rated it liked it
At times, it was hard to follow exactly where it was taking place, when, and who the assorted cast of characters were. At one point, I had to look up the book she was reading just to get a sense of what year it was. Although it was an interesting look into living with this disease, I felt it could have used a little more structure. At some points, the chapter ends abruptly in what seemed like the middle of a conversation, or she would hop from one location to the next jarringly, with little or n ...more
Heather Colacurcio
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
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
May 26, 2013 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
Stephanie Downing
Apr 23, 2013 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
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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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