The Burn Journals

( 192 )

Overview

I don’t want to get out of bed.I’m so stupid.I did so many things wrong.I don’t know what to do.I’m going to be in so much trouble.What am I going to do? I’m completely screwed.In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match. He suffered third-degree burns over 85% of his body and spent the next year recovering in hospitals and rehab facilities. During that year of physical recovery, Runyon began to question what he’d done, undertaking the...

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Burn Journals

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Overview

I don’t want to get out of bed.I’m so stupid.I did so many things wrong.I don’t know what to do.I’m going to be in so much trouble.What am I going to do? I’m completely screwed.In 1991, fourteen-year-old Brent Runyon came home from school, doused his bathrobe in gasoline, put it on, and lit a match. He suffered third-degree burns over 85% of his body and spent the next year recovering in hospitals and rehab facilities. During that year of physical recovery, Runyon began to question what he’d done, undertaking the complicated journey from near-death back to high school, and from suicide back to the emotional mainstream of life.In the tradition of Running with Scissors and Girl, Interrupted, The Burn Journals is a truly remarkable book about teenage despair and recovery.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After a bad day at school, eighth grader Brent Runyon comes home, plays a little basketball with his brother, then goes inside, soaks his bathrobe in gasoline, and set himself on fire. Thus begins the real-life odyssey of a 14-year-old boy struggling first to survive and then to retrieve a place in the universe. Runyon's first-person account of his close brush with death and his painful rehabilitation is reminiscent of Girl, Interrupted and Running with Scissors.
From the Publisher
“[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

Publishers Weekly
Engrossing from first page to last, this book based on Runyon's own adolescent experiences draws readers into the world of an eighth-grader whose life is irrevocably changed the day he deliberately sets himself on fire. Brent, after narrowly escaping death, wakes up in a hospital with 85% of his body severely burned and begins a slow, arduous path to recovery. Rather than analyzing reasons the patient wanted to kill himself, the first-person narrative remains focused on the immediate challenge of survival, incorporating meticulous details of Brent's day-to-day ordeals in the hospital and later in a rehabilitation center. Time, at first, is measured by Brent's fluctuating levels of discomfort and comfort, ranging from the excruciating pain of having bandages removed to the sheer bliss of tasting ice cream for the first time in several weeks. And his repentant apologies to his parents and to Craig, his brother, who discovers Brent immediately after the incident, are wrenching in their honesty ("I hope Craig can love me again"). When his wounds begin to heal, Brent's thoughts turn from the present to the future as he nervously makes plans to return home and re-enter society. Despite its dark subject matter, this powerful chronicle of Brent's journey to heal expresses hope, celebrates life and provides an opportunity to slip inside the skin of a survivor with a unique perspective. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Runyon tells the shocking true story of his fourteenth year. He was depressed, had attempted and failed to commit suicide several times, and ultimately set himself on fire. Runyon begins his story just before that tragic event, giving the readers some background into his mental state but never revealing that he could go so far to hurt himself. The author tells of the afternoon when he went into the bathroom, soaked his bathrobe with gasoline, and lit a match. He continues the story from his walk out of the bathroom, to the horrified face of his brother who called 911, to his trip to the hospital and the subsequent surgeries, procedures, pain, and therapy over the next year. Runyon burned 85 percent of his body and nearly died, and readers are given all the grisly details of the boy's physical and emotional recovery in a very matter-of-fact fashion. There are high points, however. Runyon received phone calls, autographs, and visits from celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Jay Leno, and Dennis Miller. He developed a special relationship with the nurses and hospital staff and grew closer to his parents, and eventually, his brother. This book is an unbelievable story of survival, even more powerful than Peeling the Onion by Wendy Orr (Holiday House, 1997/VOYA October 1997) and Out of the Fire by Deborah Froese (Sumach Press, 2002/VOYA October 2002) for the simple fact that it really happened and because it was something that Runyon brought upon himself. His is a cautionary tale to beat all cautionary tales. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Knopf, 384p., Ages12 to 18.
—Kimberly L. Paone
KLIATT - Patricia Moore
Not for the faint of heart, The Burn Journals chronicle the life of 14-year-old Brent Runyon from the day he stood in the shower, poured gasoline over his bathrobe and set himself on fire. Now in his late 20s, Runyon wrote this book as therapy to set down what he remembered of the year it took for him to recover enough to return to school. He writes of what he saw as his failure in school, his failure within his family, and his determination to kill himself. As soon as the flames encircled him, however, he turned on the shower to douse them and cried for help. The Journals tell of his painful hospitalization, his gradual recovery and realization of the harm he had done himself, and his constant apologies to his distraught parents for his actions—which they insisted on calling his "accident." Gradually he became more mobile, better able to interact with his family, friends and the hospital staff, although never with the string of psychologists and psychiatrists who tried to get him to analyze his self-destructive motives. At the end of a year, Brent was ready to return to his high school, and the reader holds his breath.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-One February day in 1991, Runyon came home from eighth grade, had a snack, soaked his full-length bathrobe in gasoline, and set himself on fire. He intended to kill himself. Everything shortly after is written in short bursts as the author takes readers in and out of his various states of consciousness: the helicopter ride; the parade of nurses, doctors, therapists, and orderlies at Children's Hospital in Washington, DC, and the regimented details of his care divided among them; and the pain of the burns on 85 percent of his body. The entries lengthen and the story builds like a novel as the author takes readers along as co-patients. The dialogue between Runyon and his nurses, parents, and especially his hapless psychotherapists is natural and believable, and his inner dialogue is flip, often funny, and sometimes raw. The details of the surgery, therapy, and painstaking care that go into healing burns are fascinating, and are likely to grip teens with a taste for gore or melodrama. Runyon's brave willingness to relive this horrifying year in unflinching detail is perhaps even more fascinating, as is the slowly unfolding mystery of the sadness that made a smart, popular, funny, loving boy try to take his own life. Depression, regret, and rebirth are the themes that tie the narrative together, and the subtle tension among the three are beautifully related, offering no neat resolution. The authentically adolescent voice of the journals will engage even those reluctant to read such a dark story.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This true story of a 14-year-old boy who tried to commit suicide by setting himself on fire certainly has the power to grab the attention of many young readers, despite its length. Formerly an excellent student, Brent suddenly begins to fail in school and pulls one too many pranks. Sure he'll be caught and expelled for impulsively setting a fire in a locker and unable to admit his guilt, he decides that it's best to die. The bulk of the narrative follows Brent through his treatment and recovery, his pain, pleasures, and frustrations, his family's love, and his relations with his friends. Rarely stated but always lurking below the surface is the question of why Brent set himself on fire, because he doesn't know himself. It's a fascinating journey through a teenager's mind, only lacking information about what happened to Brent after he returned to school. (Nonfiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400096428
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/11/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 185,311
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

When seventh period is finally over, I run to my locker and put all my books inside. I won’t need them anymore. I grab my lock-picking set and a spare Ace of Spades that I have lying around.
At the end of the hallway, I can see Stephen talking to Megan, the girl we both have a crush on. I walk up to them and say hi. She smiles at me and I try to smile back. He looks a little suspicious.
I don’t really want to say anything, I don’t want to tell them what I’m going to do. I hand him the Ace of Spades and say, “Good-bye,” and I walk away. I hope they’ll be happy together.
I see my friend Jake at his locker and give him the lock-picking set. “Use them wisely,” I say, and head toward the bus.
Laura walks with me down D hall. She says, “Hey, I heard you set that fire in gym class.”
“Yeah.”
“What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to set myself on fire.” She stops at her locker, and I keep walking.

On the bus ride home, I sit by myself. I lean my head against the cold glass window and try not to think about all the stupid things I’ve done, all the bad things I’ve done, and all the pain I’ve caused everyone.

My brother is playing basketball outside the house when I get home. He’s shooting free throws.
I rebound the ball for him and throw it back. I don’t want to take any shots. I tell him the whole story, about what I did and what they’re going to do to me. I don’t tell him what I’m going to do to myself.
When I’m done talking, he says, “That sucks,” and I go inside the house. I don’t have to write a note anymore. Craig knows everything.
I walk out to the shed to get the gas can. I bring it inside to the bathroom at the top of the stairs because that’s the room with the most locks. I go back downstairs and get the matches from the kitchen.

I take off all my clothes and put on the pair of red boxers with glow-in-the-dark lips that my mom bought for me at the mall last weekend. I bring my bathrobe into the shower and I pour the gasoline all over it. The gas can is only about a quarter full, but it seems like enough.
I step into the bathtub and I put the bathrobe over my shoulders. It’s wet and heavy, but there’s something kind of comforting about the smell, like going on a long car trip. I hold the box of matches out in front of me in my left hand.
I take out a strike-anywhere match and hold it against the box.
Should I do it?
Yes. Do it.
I strike the match, but it doesn’t light. Try again.
I light the match. Nothing happens. I bring it closer to my wrist and then it goes up, all over me, eating through me everywhere. I can’t breathe. I’m screaming, “Craig! Craig!”
I fall down. I’m going to die. I’m going to find out what death is like. I’m going to know. But nothing’s happening.
This hurts too much. I need to stop it. I need to get up. I stand. I don’t know how I stand, but I do, and I turn on the shower. I’m breathing water and smoke. I unlock the door and open it. My hand is all black. I walk out. There’s Craig with Rusty, our dog, next to him. They have the same expression on their faces.
Craig yells something and runs downstairs. I think he’s calling 911. I’m following him. He hands me the phone and runs off. There’s a woman on the phone asking me questions. I try to tell her what’s happened, but my voice sounds choked and brittle. There’s something wrong with my voice.
The woman on the phone says the fire trucks and ambulances are on their way. Somehow she knows my address. Craig is gone now, gone to get Mom, and Rusty is hiding somewhere. Smoke is coming from the bathroom upstairs and I can see that the whole room has turned black. I look down and see my flesh is charred and flaking and the glow-in-the-dark boxer shorts are burnt into my skin.
The woman on the phone says everything is going to be all right, and I believe her. She has a nice voice. She keeps asking me if I’m still on fire and I say, “I don’t think so.”
I’m walking around the kitchen, waiting for the ambulance to come. I can see my reflection in the microwave. Where’s my hair? Where did my hair go? Is that my face?
We used to put marshmallows in the microwave. We used to watch them get bigger and bigger and then shrink down.
“Oh God, just tell them to get here, just tell them to get here, okay?”
She says, “It’s okay. They’re coming. They’re almost there.”
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay, that’s okay.”
I can hear the sirens in the distance now.
I say, “I want to lie down. I’m going to lie down.” It hurts to talk. I think there’s something wrong in my throat.
“You can’t lie down.”
“But I have to.”
“Okay, you can lie down.”
The men are here. The firemen are here. They’re putting me on a plastic sheet. They say I’m going to be okay. One of them puts something over my face. That feels good. That feels so good. The cold air feels so good going into my lungs.
What are they talking about? What are they saying? They’re giving me a shot. They say it’s going to make the pain go away. Make the pain go away.
I’m looking at the faces of all the men who are gathered around me. Their eyes are so blue and so clear.
I turn my head and see Craig in the front hall. He’s yelling and punching the walls. He’s angry.
And my mom is here, and she’s smiling and saying she loves me, and her eyes, which are green like my eyes, are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

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Reading Group Guide

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

The introduction, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group’s reading and discussion of Brent Runyon’s The Burn Journals, the provocative, raw, and unsparing account of Runyon’s long journey back to teenage life after a botched suicide attempt leaves him physically and emotionally shattered.

1. This memoir is unique in that Runyon chooses not to annotate his account from an adult perspective but rather to let his fourteen-year-old voice stand alone. How does this lack of analysis and retrospective insight shape the narrative? What effect does the detached, primitive, sometimes belligerent nature of this teenage voice have on the story?

2. Brent’s description of his mother’s eyes moments after the disaster–“her eyes . . . are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen” [p. 18]–echoes studies on newborns’ reactions to their mothers’ eyes moments after birth. To what extent is Brent’s suicide an attempt to revert to an infantile state in which he will be unconditionally loved? Are all suicides overtures toward rebirth?

3. How does Brent’s nebulous adolescent understanding of his own sexuality play into his depression? Do his thwarted attempts at intimacy with women and girls read as comical or disturbing? Does he mature in this area over the course of the memoir?

4. Brent recounts several episodes that seem to suggest a lack of sensitivity on the part of his parents to his violent tendencies, even after his release from rehab. In one, his father employs Brent’s reluctant help in bludgeoning a possum to death. In another, his father buys Brent boxing gloves and allows Brent to knock him to the ground. In a third, Brent ponders his childhood practice of mutilating toys, a habit obviously unnoticed by his parents: “Poor Papa Smurf. . . . Sometimes we used to light a can of Lysol and spray him with fire. . . . We also tore the arms off of Cobra Commander and put his head in a vise. We took Duke, from G.I. Joe, and twisted him around until his spine snapped. . . . And then we set them on fire too. Why did we do that?” [p. 288] Are these passages intended to impugn Brent’s parents on some level? Or are they meant simply to pinpoint Brent’s growing awareness of violence and its ramifications? Why do you think he includes them?

5. Brent struggles to find a means to articulate his sorrow and regret over the disaster to his family. Yet when presented with family therapy specifically tailored to facilitating this kind of dialogue, Brent becomes reticent, unyielding, and sarcastic. Why?

6. Brent writes of his burn treatments: “There are two kinds of people in this world. People that have to lie on their stomachs for ten days straight and people that don’t. And the lucky bastards that don’t have to lie on their stomachs for ten motherfucking days are the ones that get to skate through life like they have their own personal Zamboni smoothing the way for them” [p. 82]. How much responsibility does Brent accept for his injury? To what extent does he blame fate?

7. Brent’s mantra, “I hate myself,” continues well after the fire. How much of this can be attributed to the normal pains of adolescence? What are the signs that his self-loathing is abating or shifting by the time he returns to school?

8. Some of the memoir’s most excruciating dialogues occur in the context of psychological evaluation. In the presence of a family therapist, Brent has a bizarre argument with his mother over whether five or ten minutes of silence have passed [p. 136]. During a session with two psychologists, Brent accuses one of the doctors of saying “scarcastic” instead of “sarcastic” [p. 216]. Do these episodes suggest true madness, or does Brent purposefully warp his ostensible grasp on reality in order to get attention? What sort of agony do you think therapy sessions like those Brent describes can invoke for a teenage boy?

9. In Darkness Visible, his memoir of mental illness, William Styron writes, “Depression is a disorder of mood, so mysteriously painful and elusive in the way it becomes known to the self–to the mediating intellect–as to verge close to being beyond description. It thus remains nearly incomprehensible to those who have not experienced it in its extreme mode.” Does The Burn Journals succeed in rendering Runyon’s depression comprehensible to readers? Is this book an appropriate cautionary or helpful tale for depressed teenagers to read?

10. One reviewer wrote of The Burn Journals: “[Brent] isn’t spared the sight of the pain felt by his family and friends, as he would have been had he died. In accepting the burden of the anguish he caused them, he finds healing and a new depth to his relationships” [“The Burn Journals A Gripping Must-Read” by Karyn Saemann, The Capital Times, November 5, 2004]. Is this an accurate assessment? If so, what evidence is there of Brent’s healing? Which relationships are deepened and renewed?

11. When Brent’s parents ask him if he is involved in the occult, Brent is overwhelmed and hurt by their ignorance of him. “They know nothing about me. Nothing at all. . . . Why don’t they love me? Why don’t they take care of me? Why don’t they act like I’m their son? . . . I can’t believe how little they know me” [p. 192]. Does Brent ever convey this sense of betrayal to them? Does this issue of misinterpretation reach a denouement?

12. When Brent is given permission to forgo his plastic face mask when he goes back to school, why does he hesitate?

13. Which of Brent’s caregivers makes the most lasting difference in his recovery process? Why?

14. The passages that describe Brent’s burn care routine in the hospital are graphic, even grisly. What role do they play in the memoir?

15. When a nurse suggests that Brent ought to be grateful for his lapses in memory after the fire, Brent’s mental response is, “I don’t want to forget anything. I don’t care if they are terrible memories. They’re mine” [p. 86]. To what extent is Brent’s journey out of darkness a process of reclamation? What societal forces could cause an upper-middle-class white teenager to feel disenfranchised or in need of reclaiming what is rightfully his?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 192 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(108)

4 Star

(45)

3 Star

(19)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 193 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful book, must read!

    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon was an incredible book. All 325 pages of the book were so important, they were bits of his life. This book is unique, I feel like it gives people an inside to what people with depression go through and how they deal with it. I really enjoyed that the author told it as it is, he didn't try and cover it with frosting. He told the true story and that takes a lot of courage. I don't think the author did anything to stray from the subject. I liked this book a lot, it opened up my eyes to I guess something that most people judge on, and I think it made me understand and be more open minded. I would say this book is appropriate for reading to people who are mature, it's not a light matter and you have to be ready for that. Parts of the book get a bit gruesome, so be prepared for that, but overall it's great!

    14 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    great book

    if anyone is struggling with their self confidence just reading this book made me realize how everyhing we live for is more than meets the eye. this great book covered every aspect and was a true eyeopener

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2012

    Wow

    This book was on my nook under the heading "teen "angst". I had not seen that particular selection before and decided to check out tge selectiohs. I'm glad i did.
    This book is written in the first person and follows a teenage boy who tries to kill himself with fire. What a frightening thought! I can't imagine the pain of the fire and the pain of reliving it in the words written on these pages.
    As a mom, it scares me to think that such a thing is possible. That such a talented child would think that death was the only option.
    It was heartbreaking to feel the pain in Brent's words; to imagine the pain his parents suffered watching him go through recovery.
    My only reason for not giving this book 5 stars is because of the frequent f-bombs. This book was both easy to read and hard to read at the same time. Sad, scary.....impossible to put down.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    This is an incredible book! You have to read it!!!!!

    The Burn Journals
    By Brent Runyon

    My Book Rating: B-

    When Brent Runyon, a fourteen year old boy, sets himself on fire for a reason he cannot even remember, his whole life is changed forever. He must go through many different kinds of hospitals in order to attempt to get his life back. Although Brent knows he will never be the same mentally, he must believe that he can restore himself physically. Through Brent's long and painful journey, he finally realizes that he is and had always been loved and needed by his family and friends.

    In The Burn Journal, Brent Runyon is able to write an incredibly true story about the most painful point in his life. He wrote about his suicide attempt and how he overcame it. Brent's purpose for writing this book is to help show and explain how horrible and pointless suicide is. He wants his readers to know and understand that the people in their life love and care for them.

    The author, Brent Runyon, has a very important goal for this book and himself. He hoped that by writing this book he could explain, even if only to himself, how and why his depression and recovery worked the way they did. He wanted to finally put it all at rest and to never have to worry and stress about it again.

    The Burn Journals is extremely different compared to others on the subject. The Burn Journals is much more detailed than many other books on the same topic. Many times books about suicide do not go into too much detail because they do not want to scare their audience. The Burn Journals is different because it is so well revealed and the story is so well written that the reader feels as if they were actually witnessing the story live. The Burn Journals allows for it's audience to feel the pain Brent had to go through and understand the reasoning behind it.

    I rated this book a B- because although it teaches a major lesson, it is also a little strange at certain parts. For example, Brent uses a lot of foul language in his vocabulary. Usually I can take a little curse words in the books I read, but The Burn Journals just has way too many. Other than that, the book is a very interesting read. I definitely enjoyed reading The Burn Journals.

    The Burn Journals is an incredible book that everyone should read. It teaches the reader so much, which should always be an author's goal. When the reader puts down the book, they will walk away full of useful knowledge. I would definitely recommend this book to someone else because of the immense power and strength that radiates off the book. The Burn Journals is an extremely powerful novel that teaches some of the most important things about life.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2010

    LOVE!!

    The Burn Journals is an amazing read. Brent takes you through every emotion from extreme sadness and depression, and the desire to just be loved. The Burn Journals is heart wrenching,true,funny,and amazingly written!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2012

    Agree

    I agree with u person under me. Im a seventh grader and i approve this message lol ^.^

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2005

    A Must-Read!

    I love this book! The Burn Journals is a very moving story about Brent, a fourteen year-old who tries to commit suicide by setting himself on fire. The book reveals what he was feeling before, during and after the incident. It also describes his recovery for the following year. Some of the details make me cringe, but they are important to the story because they help me understand what Brent had to endure. This story is fascinating because it is written from Brent¿s point of view. His comments make you realize that it could happen to almost anybody. Before the fire, nobody suspected that Brent was unhappy. He seemed like a completely normal teenager. This is why teachers and parents need to read this book: You can never know for sure how a person is feeling. Teenagers will love this book because it is a moving story about someone just like them.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2010

    Every teenager should read this book!!!

    This book is a firsthand look into a teenage boy's head. There is a lot of thought and emotion put into this book, such as going through all the hospitals and theripists and puberty and the feeling of being left behind because of a bad "mistake". I would read this book again any day, and reccomend it to tons of people!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 21, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    This really made me think

    I absolutely adore this book. I only have four top favorite books of all time, and this is one of them. It made me cry at some times, and I feel such a connection with the author. It amazes me how this is a true story, and Brent lived through all of that. This book made me think, because of all the emotion Brent poured into it, which is why I cried sometimes. I loved the writing style too. Deffinetly something to read. But it's NOT for younger readers. It's one of the most perverted, suicidal, and bad-word filled books I've ever read. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 5, 2008

    This book will make your top 5 list.

    An absolute must-read that is gripping from page 1 to page 374. This book is packed with emotions and angst that apply to not only teens and adolescents but adults as well. The lessons Brent learns in the hospital and out of the hospital are applicable to many aspects of life. The Burn Journals is a true representation of what it's like to be depressed, and what it's like to realize how you've hurt other people. I highly recommend this book. And to the teacher who said the book is too mature for junior high-ers...this all happened to Brent Runyon as a junior high school student, so it's obviously not too mature.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2008

    Amazing

    I bought this not expecting much, but there was a difference in this book that seperated it from others- I realized that is was because this book is totally HONEST. I could relate to the emotions and I really felt like I was inside Runyon's head. This was a unique topic and I enjoyed it more than I have with many books- and I read a TON. I wouldn't pass this up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2015

    Brent Runyon¿s autobiographical novel ¿The Burn Journals¿, lets

    Brent Runyon’s autobiographical novel “The Burn Journals”, lets us explore the aftermath of his suicide attempt and his struggle to come to terms with his depression and the impact it has on his entire family. After lighting himself on fire, Brent goes through a painful year of physical and mental recovery. Along with the surgeries, skin grafts, physical therapy, and the Jobst garments, comes the challenges of coping with his negative emotions, and learning to express his anger and anxiety to himself and his family. I believe that the author’s intentions are simply to provide a window into the mind of someone going through depression. He does this by using a stream of consciousness narration where he tells us the conversations he has with himself in his head. Early in his recovery he reflects upon his fateful decision, “I keep thinking about it. I was in the bathroom and I had the gas can and the matches and I sat on the toilet. That’s when I should’ve realized how stupid I was being. That’s when I should’ve stopped it. […] I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish, I wish. I wish I’d stopped. But I didn’t.”(123-124) Brent’s internal conversation continues throughout the whole story of his healing process. When he’s finally able to return to school, his internal conversation reflects his more hopeful outlook. “This is it. This is it. The bus is going to take me to school and the whole thing is going to change. I’m going to walk into school and I’m going to be a different person, and they’re all going to see I’m a different person.”(373)
    I liked this book because it expressed the irrational and anxious decisions of someone in that state of mind. Before Brent sets himself on fire, he’s vacillates, “Should I do it? Yes. Do it.”(20) But once he does it, he immediately regrets it and apologizes to the 9-1-1 operator “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.”(21) Another thing I liked about this book is that he showed how difficult it was to talk to his parents about his thoughts and feelings, because like many teenagers, discussing his emotions is alien to him and feels threatening. When he’s pressed by his parents’ questions, he breaks down “’I don’t know what to tell you. You’re asking all the wrong questions.’”(225) and he thinks “I can’t believe how little they know me.”(226) This reaction to their questions during a family therapy session shows how he desperately wishes they would know how he feels without having to tell them. I would definitely recommend this book, especially to young adults who can relate to the distance they often experience in relationship to their parents and siblings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2015

    The book, The Burn Journals, written by Brent Runyon tells the s

    The book, The Burn Journals, written by Brent Runyon tells the story of how he tried to commit suicide at the age of fourteen. His attempt to suicide ended with his body having severe burns and having to spend the next year in hospitals instead of going to school along with all of his friends. This complicated journey of recovering as a teenage boy shows the readers how the author suggests that thinking about your actions is important. This is directly related to his situation because just a couple of months after his accident, he had forgotten the reason why he had done it. He repeats several times throughout the book how he deeply regrets his actions that day and tries to think about why he did it. At one point in the story Runyon begins to think, “Maybe I did it because I hit my head when I was six. Or maybe because my parents named me Brent, which sounds like burnt. Or maybe because of all the school stuff. Or maybe I was just depressed,” (page 197). This quote shows how confused he is about it. Some of the reasons sound unreasonable, but it’s all because of the problems the author was mentally going through. In the book his long and frustrating journey is shown.
    This story is very inspiring and can relate to many people who have gone through a deep depression. It also shows an interesting story through the victim’s point of view. Runyon explains all of his journey in a sincere way and just as any other teenager would. An example of this is the hard decision of taking the path back to the main focus of his life after everyone has found out about the suicidal attempt and having to walk around with scars from his burns. The author makes it clear that it was a hard decision but knows he must continue on with his life after the accident. He also talks about the depression he feels when he realizes how much he has hurt his family by this action he took. Brent soon realizes to appreciate what life has to offer him and make the most of it. The Burn Journals is a book I would recommend to others because of the way it tells a story that gives a great meaning about appreciating life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2015

    The Burn Journals is focused on a boy named Brent Runyon who att

    The Burn Journals is focused on a boy named Brent Runyon who attempts to commit suicide by drenching his bathrobe with gasoline and lighting himself with matches. Fourteen year-old Brent suffers from this incident and spends the next 8 months in the hospital recovering. After his recoveries in the hospital, he attends rehab facilities and during Brent’s recovery he wonders what lead him to take such life threating actions. I believe the author’s purpose of the book is to inform readers what teens undergo through when having thoughts of suicide in times of depression. “You're all trying to figure out what went wrong inside my head. You’ll never crack the code that's inside my head. You'll never get into my castle. You'll never even get past the gate.” Brent is going through a stage where he’s trying to conceal himself from everyone and doesn’t want anyone one to know why he tried to kill himself. “The sad thing is, after a while, it starts to feel like home. It does, doesn't it?” A girl from Michigan wrote this to Brent and she’s going through depression as well and she’s telling Brent how being in depression feels like home after a period of time. These examples display what teens experience when in the process of trying to recover from their suicidal attempt.
    The story is very detailed and explains Brent well enough to the extent were you get to know him like a friend. For instance, when he’s describing people you get the sense he’s someone who gets annoyed easily and likes to take things easy. A negative side about the book is the use of cuss words and sexual thoughts which I strongly dislike. I also dislike how you don’t get to see other point of views like how his family feels about what Brent has done in deeper thoughts. For example, when they visit the psychologist you don’t get to hear much of what his parents and brother are thinking because while they’re talking you are listening to the thoughts of Brent. Another part in the book were you here Brent speaking in his mind frequently is during the events and visits with his friends before the incident. I would recommend reading this book because it shows the concern of what teens might be thinking in times of distress. It could help others persuade themselves not to commit suicide if they were having any thoughts on the topic.

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  • Posted January 22, 2015

    The Burn Journals is a true story about a teenager, Brent Runyo

    The Burn Journals is a true story about a teenager, Brent Runyon, who attempts to commit suicide by lighting himself on fire. He immediately puts himself out by turning on the shower and walks out while his brother calls 911. He was admitted into Children’s National Medical Center in Washington where he meets very kind nurses and doctors. He was in and out of many other hospitals and mental rehabilitation centers. The lesson of this phenomenal novel was to tell the readers, usually young adolescents, that you should think before you do because the consequences can affect your life forever. Runyon ends up regretting lighting himself on fire because he ends up unable to move the way he did. Whenever he is asked why he did it, he says he doesn’t know, because he doesn’t because now he realizes how stupid he was.
    I really liked this novel. This book can relate to a teen going through hard times and I related to some of his tough times. This shows the real side of teen angst. Another thing I liked about this book was the perspective. Runyon wrote in a lot of detail to make it fun to follow but not too much to make it boring. One thing I disliked about this book was how there were so many inappropriate moments in the book. I would recommend this book to a mature reader since it shows the life of a REAL teenager and what he went through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2015

          The Burn Journals is the true  story of Brent Runyon. Told

          The Burn Journals is the true  story of Brent Runyon. Told from the perspective of his 14-year-old mind, the story begins as he comes
     home from school one day and decides that killing himself is better than facing the wrath of his parents.
    He puts on his robe, soaked in gasoline, and sets himself on fire, regretting his decision almost instantly. He walks out the bathroom door
     and yells to his brother runs to call 911, rushing Brent to the hospital as soon as possible. The story follows Brent through his treatments,  
    stays at different hospitals and rehab centers, therapist after therapist, and gradual recovery. 


          Brent gradually gets over his depression and grows and learns from everything that happens to him. One major theme of the book is
    being accepting of yourself as you grow up, and learning to appreciate life. Another major theme of the book is the innate will of people
     to survive and fight against things holding them back. Overall this story is great to help young teens learn to accept themselves. It also
    teaches them not to make permanent decisions on temporary feelings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2015

    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon was a beautiful and eye-openi

    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon was a beautiful and eye-opening book. The book starts off with his (the author’s) memory at school. After attempting suicide, the author left no detail behind regarding his stay at burn care. He also added all of his thoughts in the book, almost allowing us to feel as if we were him. If there’s anything I learned from this book, expressing your thoughts and problems is a great way to remove stress. For example, when he said, “When I… when I tried to hurt myself before […] That wasn’t the first time that I tried to do something like that,” in a scene about quarter into the book, tears were coming out of my eyes, knowing that he’d finally accepted the fact that he had to tell his mother. Every page had detail that was worth noticing. Sometimes hilarious and sometimes tear-jerking, Brent Runyon wrote his horrible experience and published it. Perhaps to warn other teenagers how terrifying of an experience attempting suicide is. Brent Runyon wrote down all of the pain he felt, as if to make the reader feel the pain he did.
    The author made it seem as if this was all a fictional story about a young boy who attempted suicide. This way of writing made me feel as if I was the one who was who was burned. The content was great and honest, perhaps, a little too honest at times. Some parts of the book felt uncomfortable, yet hilarious. The scenes where he “thinks about people” made laugh hysterically. Secondly, the book made me think about what others are thinking, and how they feel, like in the beginning of the book, the author felt horribly stressed, yet nobody knew. He attempted suicide and nobody expected it. Finally, my eyes were opened as to what happens when you attempt suicide. Everybody in your circle, such as friends and family, would be horrified at the fact that you committed suicide. I strongly recommend reading this book as it opened my eyes to suicide.
    MHS 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2015

    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon takes place in Falls Church, V

    The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon takes place in Falls Church, Virginia during 1991. Fourteen-year-old Brent is a troubled and a suicidal kid, whose life is starting to take a toll on him. Brent hates himself because his best friend’s crush likes him instead of his friend. His recent suicides: sliced wrists, taking pill, and hanging himself have been caused by his failures in life and this leaves him feeling stupid. He feels even worse after he sets a shirt on fire in the boy’s locker room and throws it into a random locker. When the school finds out it was a him and threaten to take disciplinary action, Brent’s suicidal thoughts begin to augment. When Brent gets home he puts on his robe and stands in the shower, then pours gasoline on himself and lights a match. Brent suffers third degree burns on 85% of his body and spends the next year recovering. The Burn Journals take us through Brent’s journey, frustration, and feelings towards others throughout the next year. The author’s intention was to write everything down so he could free himself of the dark memories and the guilt that came from what he had done to his family.  “ ‘ I’m sorry, Mom,” (115) conveys that he is regretful of what he has done. When he told his mom that that wasn’t the first time he tried to kill himself he felt sorry that he wanted to do that. He expressed that he was guilty and cried with his mom.
    I like The Burn Journals because it gave me insight on a near-death experience. “This hurts to much. I need to stop it. I need to get up. […] I’m breathing water and smoke.” (17) vividly explains what Brent is thinking when he is in pain and on fire. Brent feels that it hurts to much and he needs to find a way to stop the fire. I also liked that the book gives a lot of details. For example, “ I hurt. I need something. Lisa gives me something to stop hurting, and it’s working, but now I can’t see, everything is double,” (32) asserts the detail because after he took the drug he saw double. Furthermore, I like the book because it doesn’t tell you why Brent committed suicide. “ ‘I don’t remember.’ That’s true. I don’t remember. I don’t remember anything about myself back then,” (135) show us that Brent doesn’t exactly remember why he did this. The author doesn’t tell us why he committed suicide, but he let it be interpretive. What I disliked about the book was the abrupt ending, I felt that it needed to go on and demonstrate what happen after Brent walks through the halls. Overall, I would recommend this book because it lets you experience life through someone else’s eyes, a suicidal teenager. It demonstrated frustration and anger on a whole new level. Brent Runyon didn’t sugar coat his experience and was extremely bunt. The Burn Journals allows the reader to experience his pain and teaches some of the most important things in life, to live. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 20, 2015

    I have

    Once i have tried and tried to kill myself on overdosing many tims and i cut my wrists. I still do. But whoever is gonna sitthere and say he was immature and didnt think about his families feelings maybe they should just keep it shut because maybe he didnt care. His family probably didnt treat him good at all. I wouldnt give a crap. Mine wouldnt miss me. They are just selfish pigs that beat eachother up and yell at eachother over stupid reasons. Calling eachother names and yelling all the time. Being so lazy as to paste a job on someone else saying its not theyre job. Not cleaning up any of theyre messes.
    Blaming stuff on eachother barging into a room without permission. Fvcking animals. Dont say i have problems.. my dam family does.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2014

    The book The Burn Journal by Brent Runyon is absolutely a book f

    The book The Burn Journal by Brent Runyon is absolutely a book for teenage boys. I found that the author was very immature and never really took into consideration the effect his actions had on his family and friends. I do not think it was a very well written book and I would prefer the book if the author was a little more sensitive.

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