Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Publisher: Free Press
Pages: 264
Format: ARC 
Buy the Book: Amazon  

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. 

Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history. 

Kritters Thoughts:   A young woman at the beginning of a promising career at the New York Post as a journalist, when a few random occurrences linked together put her in the hospital with no explanation  the story takes off.  This non-fiction memoir was my favorite non fiction read of 2012.  Because she is a journalist, she was able to piece together moments that she may have missed by using the resources around her.  She wrote this book in such a way that it was easy and enjoyable to follow.

My overall though after reading the book was how many people are living with an illness that is either misdiagnosed or is so rare that the doctor cannot name it and really help with the symptoms.  I have never really been a person that gets sick often, but my sister always gets hit with something or the other, but thankfully everything she has had to live with has been common and easy to treat.  I can't imagine living or having a family member that is sick, but can not be diagnosed.

I would absolutely recommend this book to readers who love the non-fiction, memoir genre.  I would also pass it along to those who may not be fans, because this is written in the best format to introduce someone to the genre.

Rating: absolutely loved it and want a sequel

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one copy of this book free of charge from Simon and Schuster.  I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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