The figurative language of Suleika Jaouad…

Reading time: Less than 2 minutes

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a series of similes from Suleika Jaouad…

Suleika Jaouad (pictured above) was just 22-years-old when she was given the grim statistic that her odds of survival were no greater than 35 per cent.

Diagnosed with leukemia, Jaouad had to suffer through many rounds of chemotherapy and get through a stem-cell transplant. But the harder recovery was psychological.

In her exquisitely written memoir, Between Two Kingdoms, Jaouad reflects on the thin line between life and death and perils of going through recovery. And she does it all with a keen eye for figurative language.

Here are my favourite examples:

  • I tried to resist scratching, but the itch was relentless, spreading across the surface of my skin like a thousand invisible mosquito bites.
  • A scree of oozing nicks, thick scabs, and fresh scars soon marred my legs as if they had been beaten with rose thistles.
  • The muffled sound of my alarm clock dragged like a dull knife through dreamless sleep.
  • On my last morning in New York, lemon-colored light filtered in through the kitchen as I made coffee, the angry bleats of taxis and sighs of buses down below faintly audible.
  • With each passing day, I felt weaker, less vibrant. It was as if someone were taking an eraser to my core.
  • As I waited, the revolving doors spat out one weary traveler after another.
  • His eyes, dark and thick-lashed like a dairy cow’s scanned the room, searching for someone who resembled his daughter.
  • I sprawled onto the bed, a heavy sleep pinning me to the mattress.
  • My fear was alive. I could smell its wet fur in the room and feel the chuffing of its breath, hot on my skin.
  • My cancer was a junkyard dog. It may have been fenced in for now, but it was mean and growling, threatening to dig under the barbed wire and escape.
  • Like most everyone else at Sloan Kettering, Max was as bald and pale as a boiled egg.
  • Signal, check mirror, watch for blind spots. I chant Brian’s instructions like a phone number I’m scared of forgetting.
  • Ominous purple and black clouds bruise the sky as I pull into a campground in Middleborough, Massachusetts.
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