TMW Book Reviews

Like Two Saplings: A Memoir


Margery Al-Chalabi

In the early 1960’s two recently-graduated architects, from very different cultures and continents, traveled to Greece to continue their educations as urban planners in the ancient City of Athens, which had long served as a bridge between the East and West. Attraction, between Margery and Suhail grew slowly; but irresistibly. And, at the end of their study, they added two graduate degrees, a marriage, and a partnership that would grow, and deepen over fifty years. Suddenly, at the height of their highly-regarded careers, their happy lives were upended. Suhail’s chronic leukemia had become acute. This memoir recounts the following year of dread and hope; and the trip to Dallas for the treatment that could save Suhail’s life.

Like Two Saplings is a tender and smart memoir of captivating romance while chronicling a year of uncertainty. With its unflinching look at love facing death, the memoir is filled with recollections of long-ago beginnings, exotic travels, and email correspondence from friends and family. Despite ping-ponging between hope and fear, with more questions than answers, there was still much to celebrate, with multiple landmark accomplishments and events, as well as the closeness of colleagues, families, and friends. Within these pages, Margery captures the intimate details of the way in which Suhail faced death with the same courage and grace he lived his life.

“This is one of those books that makes one wish its subject could have been a friend. The author indeed writes a beautiful testament to a life well lived.”—Kat Kennedy, US Review of Books

“Al Chalabi’s recollections combine her innate intellectual and organizational abilities with a sense of passion and genuine caring for the great love of her life.”—Barbara Bamberger Scott, Pacific Book Review

Like Two Saplings touches on many aspects we hope to have with our own relationships. From growing together like two saplings into one great tall tree, we find that our greatest strengths are truly within each other. While we are strong apart, we are even better together.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 2, 2023