Synopsis via Goodread
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.
Interesting Fact: There are a number of individuals suffering from rare disorders, psychiatric symptoms, and like Susannah, many of them go undiagnosed.
Interesting Tidbit: In 2016, Brain On Fire was made into a movie starring Chloe Mortez; follows the harrowing experience of a writer struggling with a rare neurological disease from when she first suffers symptoms to the many attempts at diagnosing it and the eventual discovery of the real cause of her illness via IMB *See trailer below*
Author: Susannah Cahalan, former New York Post Reporter; work has been featured in NYT and Czech Business Weekly.
First Impressions: The book has three parts with 14 to 16 chapters in each. I’m really enjoying the progression of the story and it’s an easy read. Loved that the author utilized her own diary and writing in the book. You feel as if you’re on this rollercoaster ride called her life. I love the dynamics of the characters: She’s been dating her boyfriend for four months before she started feeling all her symptoms and he seems to be her “constant reminder” of what normal life should be. I also like how they introduce her parents *both divorced and remarried and the contrasting relationships between her stepfather and her biological father* Something else that I found interesting is her thought process, one minute she’s a normal 20 something-year-old journalist whose trying not to stress about life and she believes she’s failing at life and then the next minute, she’s fine. But in reality, it’s all part of the disease, I’m happy that the book mentions mental illness, the toll it takes on the individuals, and how to you deal with life in general when you don’t know what’s wrong with you. At one point, she begins to hallucinate and even begins to go through a spell of seizures. It’s sad because you can “feel” Susannah’s desperate plea for sanity (kudos to the writer for the visualization), at some points I laughed because it felt as if I was having a conversation with her. Other times, I wanted to cry and hug her because she so desperately want to gain a sense of normalcy.
“What do you do when you don’t know what’s wrong with you and you begin to lose your own identity?”
What I Wish: There are some parts that are “overly detailed” and I feel like it takes away from the story a little bit so I hope in the coming chapter they reduce that. I really want to understand the disorder she’s dealing with so I hope they explain that in detail. I also want to know why the stepdad never brought up his family history of mental illness *not that they are related, but I feel like it could have helped with the process and the family, heck, even Susannah could have sought help earlier OR at least they would know how to handle it. *That’s just my opinion but he must have his own reasons too*
In my review: My thoughts on the book and characters, including their names, what I learned and my overall critique and rating of the book
Thanks for visiting my blog and post. Let me know if you’ve read the book or if you plan on reading it.