You become manic, depressed and start to have seizures, but no one knows why.
Almost overnight, your life flips upside down and you don’t know what’s real and what’s an illusion.
Susannah Cahalan lived her worst nightmare, wide awake. She became buried alive in her madness and the tomb was her very own body.
Brain on Fire, is a magnificent piece of journalism and nonfiction wrapped into one gripping memoir of how a woman made her descent into uncertainty and insanity all in the matter of a month.
What I loved: Brain on Fire is one of the best memoirs I’ve read in a long time. I finished the book in less than two days because I could not put it down -- seriously. The first chapter hooked me instantly and I became more intrigued as I continued reading. I loved that the chapters were relatively short. You cannot read just one chapter and put it down, you’ll want to read more and more and more.
The writing is out of this world and perfectly descriptive. Cahalan recalls at some points she felt she could literally see herself from above as if she was looking down at the present moment. The readers will be able to experience this phenomenon as well because she writes so thoroughly, you feel as though you are present during the story too.
Cahalan wholly admits her memory is extremely foggy during her month of madness, but being the journalist she is, she was able to interview her family and doctors to put together the missing pieces of her puzzle from hell.
Cahalan includes many diagrams, photographs, doctors’ notes, and actual writing samples from when she was sick. This additional information allows the reader to further explore Cahalan’s mind and state of madness during this time.
I am no scientist or doctor, but I was able to follow along with the medical lingo and scientific explanations.
Brain on Fire left me speechless, in tears and in awe of Cahalan’s level of determination and motivation to recover and recall her true self back to reality.
What is truly chilling about this book is that I am able to relate to Susannah on a certain level. I, too, am 24 years old and a journalist. I am outgoing and lived on my own for some time. I cannot even being to imagine going through something like this, and because of that, I sincerely look up to Susannah and admire her for being a remarkably strong woman.
What I didn’t: My only request is I wish there would have been additional passages from the point of view of Cahalan’s parents and doctors. While she did a phenomenal job retelling their side, I would have liked to read about some of their first-hand experiences.
Once you finish reading…
Visit Susannah’s site to learn more about her book and the various foundations she is involved in.