Brent Runyon, Author . Knopf $17.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-375-82621-4

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.)

Reviewed on: 10/11/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 242 pages - 978-0-307-27695-7
Hardcover - 374 pages - 978-0-375-92621-1
Paperback - 325 pages - 978-1-4000-9642-8
Prebound-Glued - 327 pages - 978-1-4176-8937-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0550-1
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