Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Burn Journals

by Brent Runyon

It's kind of weird, given the subject matter, to say I was excited about this book — but I was. I first heard this young man a year or two earlier on "This American Life" talking, with surprising humor, about how he had attempted suicide by self-immolation, survived, and recovered (as much as one can from something like that).

The book, as you might guess, is based on the journals he kept during the many months he spent in hospital, chronicling his physical and emotional recovery process. While I give the book high marks overall — it's very readable, even for teens who don't read a lot, despite appearing to be kinda thick — I was a bit disappointed in the pre-burn portion of the book. I mean, I realize it's difficult to put intense emotions into words, but I just wasn't feeling it in the lead up to the actual suicide attempt. Not to be harsh or anything, but it sounded like a bit of a lark: got in trouble at school again, parents'll be mad, maybe I'll just set myself on fire. (See this earlier post for more evidence of my inability to empathize.)

Good nonfiction recommendation for teens, especially those who like to read true-crime and/or true-trauma books in the vein of A Child Called "It". Another sort of similar book I'll be blogging at some point is Sickened: the Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood.

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