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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

The Day My Brain Exploded, Ashok Rajamani

From the Publisher: After a full-throttle brain bleed at the age of twenty-five, Ashok Rajamani, a first-generation Indian American, had to relearn everything: how to eat, how to walk and to speak, even things as basic as his sexual orientation. With humor and insight, he describes the events of that day (his brain exploded just before his brother's wedding!), as well as the long, difficult recovery period. In the process, he introduces readers to his family—his principal support group, as well as a constant source of frustration and amazement. Irreverent, coruscating, angry, at times shocking, but always revelatory, his memoir takes the reader into unfamiliar territory, much like the experience Alice had when she fell down the rabbit hole. That he lived to tell the story is miraculous; that he tells it with such aplomb is simply remarkable.

More than a decade later he has finally reestablished a productive artistic life for himself, still dealing with the effects of his injury—life-long half-blindness and epilepsy— but forging ahead as a survivor dedicated to helping others who have suffered a similar catastrophe.

Strengths: This was a pretty fascinating story of a man who had a massive brain bleed at a very young age (25). The effect of the harrowing events that began on the day of his brother's wedding continue today, a decade later. Hearing what happened to him as a result of the bleed and how he dealt with them was quite interesting.  Many, many people have catastrophic brain injuries which because they can't be seen, get a different treatment in our culture than more visible injuries.  Rajamani addresses some of those issues, which will serve to heighten awareness of the issues at hand for those unaware.  Rajamani also has a good sense of humor about many of the things that happened to him.

Weaknesses:  The story does not seem very cohesive in many places, jumping from one idea/event to the next with little transition.  This, however, may just highlight what's still happening in Rajamani's brain.

A good addition to high school libraries looking for more literary nonfiction.

Available from Multnomah County Library as an e-book.

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