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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.
“We may never understand why fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon went home and set himself on fire one afternoon, but we can’t fail to feel invested in his remarkable journey of recovery and the changes it brings about in him. This is a fascinating account of the mending of a body and a mind, told with the simple and honest sensibility of someone too young to have endured so much.” —Arthur Golden
“An excruciating, brilliant book…WOW.” —A.M. Homes
“In The Burn Journals, Brent Runyon lays himself astonishingly bare, writing with a candor so profound that it feels like innocence. This is the narrative both of his horrifying despair and of how some few rays of hope penetrated the darkness. The book is strange and elegiac and clear and true, at once unbearable and irresistible. To read it is to feel like you have made a suicide attempt yourself—and survived. It describes a particular kind of youthful male desolation better than it has ever been described before, by anyone, and will perhaps make some people lost in unhappiness feel a little bit less alone, a little bit less bewildering to themselves, a little more willing to stay alive.” —Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon