Brain on Fire - Susannah Cahalan | Book Review

Pages: 288 paperback
Publication date: August 6th 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
How I got the copy: Bought 
Rating:  5 out of 5


An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman's struggle to recapture her identity. 

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, Susannah 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. A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.


I really enjoyed this book and I had my eye on it for a pretty long time. I knew it would be something I'd enjoy, especially because it's a memoir, which means that these terrible and amazing things that happened throughout the book are fact, not fiction.

Brain on Fire is the story of Susannah Cahalan's mystery story of a rare illness. No one knows what is happening to her but family, friends and doctors can tell that there is something going on. But what is it? Test result, after test result come back negative but Susannah's mental and psychical state is becoming worse and doctors can't find anything wrong with her. Throughout the month Susannah becomes someone else. This is a story of Susannah's and her close friends difficult journey when her brain was on fire.

Yes, I'll admit that some of the language, like the medical terminology and statistics did overwhelm at times and I had to read this book little by little, however I still really enjoying it.

Reading about memoirs fascinate me. The stories of people's lives interest me and especially those who have such a different lifestyle and/or growing up story than myself. Let's just say I love to know how the other side lives. I like to know how other people are doing from their point of view. It's just so interesting to me. Or just the fact that I like to know everything.

Susannah does a great job telling it how it was from what she gathered in researching her month of madness. Detailed of when her brain was on fire, which I believe when writing the story was hard for her to tell the whole world "embarrassing" details. But she did and for the most part, from how the story goes, she did it to spread the word and to help other people who went through this or for the people who know someone going through something similar or perhaps the same thing. 

Even though this book is about the terrible state of a mystery disease Susannah went through there was a light in the tunnel by the end of the book. It was a great touch how Susannah gave some up-to-date statistics of how known the disease is now and the expected recovery numbers and so on. 

I really think that this story captures Susannah's state of madness real and personal. I recommend this book to readers who already enjoyed mental illness, mystery, memoirs and/or moving stories. Even if it's not your type of book, read it because this is such an amazing story.

Here's a video of Susannah talking about her illness: I urge that if you don't want to know what she has before reading the book to only watch to about the 3 minute mark. However, even if you know what she was diagnoses with, the journey of her story is something to read. 

Spoiler free video of Susannah Cahalan on Katie being interviewed:


No comments:

Powered by Blogger.