The Burn Journals
By Brent Runyon
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780375826214, 384pp.)
Publication Date: September 14, 2004
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BRENT RUNYON WAS 14 years old when he set himself on fire.
This is a true story.
In The Burn Journals, Runyon describes that devastating suicide attempt and his recovery over the following year. He takes us into the Burn Unit in a children’s hospital and through painful burn care and skin-grafting procedures. Then to a rehabilitation hospital, for intensive physical, occupational, and psychological therapy. And then finally back home, to the frightening prospect of entering high school.
But more importantly, Runyon takes us into his own mind. He shares his thoughts and hopes and fears with such unflinching honesty that we understand—with a terrible clarity—what it means to want to kill yourself and how it feels to struggle back toward normality.
Intense, exposed, insightful, The Burn Journals is a deeply personal story with universal reach. It is impossible to look away. Impossible to remain unmoved.
This truly riveting memoir is a spectacular debut for a talented new writer.
Brent Runyon is a regular contributor to public radio’s This American Life, where portions of this story first appeared. The author lives on Cape Cod, MA.
“[The Burn Journals] describes a particular kind of youthful male desolation better than it has ever been described before, by anyone.” -Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
“A fascinating account of the mending of a body and mind, told with the simple and honest sensibility of someone too young to have endured so much.” —Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha
"Runyon has, perhaps, written the defining book of a new genre, one that gazes...unflinchingly at boys on the emotional edge ." -Booklist (starred review)
"A taut, chilling account of the author's attempt to commit suicide...a must-read for teenagers struggling with self-doubt."-The Denver Post
“An excruciating, brilliant book...WOW.” —A.M. Homes, author of Things You Should Know