Thursday, March 13, 2008

Book Review: The Burn Journals

Author: Brent Runyon

Pages: 319

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memior

Personal Rating: 5/5

From the back cover:

In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match.

He suffered third-degree burns over 85% of his body and spent the next year recovering in hospitals and rehab facilities. During that year of physical recovery, Runyon began to question what he'd done, undertaking the complicated journey from near-death back to high school, and from suicide back to the emotional mainstream of life.

In the tradition of Running with Scissors and Girl, Interrupted, The Burn Journals is a truly remarkable book about teenage despair and recovery.
Wow. I read this book in one day. Granted, I’m layed up with a broken foot but even so it wouldn’t have taken me long. Brent Runyon’s story is horrifically fascinating but yet not depressing.

“The Burn Jounrals describes a particular kind of youthful male desolation better than it has ever been described before, by anyone.” –Andrew Solomon author of the Noonday Demon.
That sounds about right. Brent allows you into the inner most aspects of his life and mind during the most difficult part of his life. I was embarrassed to be lying in bed feeling sorry for myself and the “pain” I felt in my ankle.

A very interesting aspect is the afterword where Brett discusses how he still struggles with depression and how he has still sometimes has had thought about killing himself (again). He goes on though to talk about how he has finally begun to realize he needs help, therapy and drug and that they are not signs of weakness or “bad things”. In reference to all those people who say “I don’t want to resort to drugs” as if some people have a choice. There is still so much ignorance about mental illness it make me sick!

I want to do this book justice with a FANTASTIC review but I just don’t know how. All I can say is that it is well worth the time to grab it and read it. You won’t be the same after reading it. I’m not.

Some things that stuck with me
  • How good ice chips taste

  • The look in the paramedic and his mom’s eyes and they took him out of the house after he lit himself on fire

  • His struggles to go outside and have people look at him

  • Joy at seeing his dog Rusty when he goes home

  • He didn’t know why he did it


Jeane said...

This sounds good, even if the subject is a bit horrifying. I've always thought being burnt to death would be one of the worst ways to suffer- why would anyone inflict that upon themself? and yet he says he doesn't know.

Joy said...

I've never heard of this book. It's one to consider for the NFF Challenge. Thanks.

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