Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Publisher: Free Press
Release Date: November 2012
Genre: Memoir
Challenge: Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge
* Recommend

Description from Goodreads:
One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter. 

It amazes me, with all my anxiety that I have, that I continue to read memoirs like this. Seriously, I'm afraid to leave my house. It fascinates and horrifies me, I guess.

Memoirs are one of my favorite genres. And this one was startling and hard to put down. The complete change this woman went through was unbelievable. The hows and whys were hard to imagine as well.

Going from a seemingly normal, healthy woman and then within a few weeks becoming paranoid, psychotic, delusional, and physically unable to move the way she used to was unsettling to read about. Cahalan delivers it very in a forward way, expressing that she does not remember a lick of it. She relied on family members, hospital video, doctors notes and a journal her divorced parents kept.

All in all, you get the sense of the extreme trauma that was happening throughout the short time of her "madness"; her parents struggles and determination to find out what was wrong with their daughter, her very loyal, still very new boyfriend and her friends, old and new, coming to grips with this new Susannah.

Parts of it got to be very medical but I think once they determined what was indeed wrong with her, the book really had to go there. Her case was so unique and rare at the time, that explaining the complexities of her condition were critical.

I recommend it. I don't want to say it's not your typical "going crazy" story but that's really what it is. She had a good life, good parents, good job, good friends, good boyfriend, never any issue with mental health in the past.  She got a bug and it made her go nuts, essentially. It really brings to light how delicate the brain really is and how it doesn't take much to jack it all up.

Author Page at Simon and Schuster.
Author Website

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by.

red headed book child


Lisa said...

I'm supposed to be getting this one soon and now I can't wait. Even though I'll probably end up sitting around worrying just like you!

Jenny said...

I just added this to my wish list today! It sounds crazy!