by Rosemary Sweigart

Susannah Cahalan’s Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness is a powerful and scary retelling of her time spent in the hospital with a mysterious illness that had her “labeled as violent, psychotic, a flight risk.” This “medical mystery” memoir is the product of her friends’ and family’s notes, along with video footage and doctors’ reports. Susannah is a young reporter working for The New York Post. The book begins with bug bites and paranoia, what could have been the catalyst for her decent into madness, though no one, not even her doctors, knew for sure. Susannah being only 24 years old when her life changed due to these events is daunting, like a cautionary tale for a disease that has no true way to be prevented. Her story was gripping. The people in her life held on despite the different person she became during her illness. The encouragement Susannah’s parents, friends, and boyfriend provided were left an important foundation for her to rebuild off of once she learned to read and function on her own while recovering. The writing flows well while symptoms and scientific terms are described and told to the reader as if they are really discovering what is going on at the same time as Susannah.

Learn more about Susannah Cahalan here.

Buy this book here.

Presented by the International Foundation for Women Artists.


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