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I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames: My Insane Life Raising Two Boys with Autism

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  523 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Jeni Decker is five-foot nothing and one hundred and [redacted] pounds—a self described roly-poly, forty-something, Reubenesque bon-bon of a gal, often called cute but never sexy. She has two sons with autism on opposite ends of the spectrum (Jake and Jaxson), a husband who prefers hunting to household chores, an Australian Shepherd named Sugar, and an albino frog named Hu ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 17th 2012 by Skyhorse Publishing (first published November 1st 2011)
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Colette Guerin
Mar 11, 2012 Colette Guerin rated it did not like it
As a mother with a child with autism, I was looking forward to reading this as it was proclaimed to be the humorous side of autism. I did not laugh once. A woman who proclaims her disgust of reality TV, specifically mentioning shows that use children, she unabashedly sold her sons and husband out. Autistic or not as a parent you deal with potty and self-discovery tales but the obsessive detail she goes into is appalling for her sons. They are the one's who must live with her words one day and he ...more
Flappiness Is
Feb 27, 2012 Flappiness Is rated it it was amazing
Okay, kids. Let me preface my review of I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker with a warning. If you are rendered insensible from frank discussion of topics such as homosexuality, masturbation, and poop, please gather your belongings and locate the nearest exit. Because, though I adore and value you as much as any of my readers, there is no point encouraging you to read a book that will upset your constitution. Each and every one of us have preferences in our reading material. If you a ...more
Apr 29, 2012 Jenn rated it it was ok
I couldn't help but feel sorry for Decker's two boys, who not only have to deal with their self-involved mother on a daily basis but who will eventually come to realize that she wrote about VERY private matters under the ruse that this would be a book about a mother's love. Though I did laugh to myself a few times (hence the 2 stars), I felt guilty for doing so. It's difficult to find the humor when all I could think about was how these poor boys will feel when they read this book! She does make ...more
Diane Castle
Apr 11, 2012 Diane Castle rated it it was amazing
If you like Sedaris, you will like this book. Particularly in the opening chapters, I laughed so hard I nearly fell off the bed. My husband was like, "Um, I guess you're enjoying THAT book!"

This book is NOT for you if you are very religious, super conservative, or have a tendency to judge other women for being very honest about moments of exasperation during child-rearing. It's also not for you if you feel like a good practical joke involving a grandma, an urn, a boat, and a lake might be inapp
May 04, 2012 Elaine rated it did not like it
I should have known by the title this was not going to be a heart wrenching story of a mother raising two sons with Autism. I found the author to be offensive and crude. What she chooses to do in her personal life is her own decision and by no means offends me--what does offend me is her poking fun at her two children. As someone who works with children with Autism I feel she is too concerned about writing to actually focus on how this book may impact her family. If my mother wrote something det ...more
Nov 14, 2013 Karyl rated it really liked it
A friend of mine with multiple autistic children handed this to me and said, "Read this. It's so much like my life, it's not funny."

Being a mother isn't easy at the best of times. For 18 years, you have full responsibility for another living, breathing, feeling human being, and as a parent, you have the biggest impact of anyone on your child. Even those of us with so-called "normal" children wonder if we're screwing them up on a daily basis. I can't even imagine how difficult parenting is for D
Danielle Hughes
Apr 23, 2012 Danielle Hughes rated it it was amazing

If you are an uptight, self-righteous bitch with no sense of humor or ability to laugh out loud at life and the "inside" joys of parenting then don't read this book. This book was funny. She takes the reality of life with children with autism and throws the humor on top of the moments that would otherwise make someone lose their mind. One women stated in her review that this mom was in denial for years about her first sons diagnosis, while really she must have missed the part that the doctors j
Lois Schulz
I never quit reading a book, I always finish. I actually quit on this one. Totally disgusted by the author.
May 31, 2012 Denise rated it liked it

Incredibly, Jeni Decker is the mother of two autistic boys with different manifestations of the condition. She is clearly struggling but using humor and tough talk to get her through life. She is trying hard and very committed to being a great mother but not always such a great wife, life partner or person. I found myself laughing at times and being annoyed a great part of the time. This book is quite thought-provoking and I don't mean to be critical of the way she handles what life has given he
I'm glad I didn't spend more than $2 on this book. I didn't find it funny and I didn't learn anything new about autism. I want to call Jennifer a shitty mother & the only thing stopping me is the fact that her kids are disabled & that makes me wonder if the normal standards apply. I did notice that she lets them drink soda, have a constant supply of fast food and watch stupidity on tv. I don't think that's cool parenting for any child. Especially not when your children are so sensitive t ...more
May 30, 2012 Chris rated it did not like it
Shelves: the-worst
I don't like reading books that make me feel like taking a shower when I'm done with them. And this isn't even in the sexy sense. This book was just unpleasant, jam packed with musings about poop, pee and snot, and what's with those films she and her family make? They sounded awfully dodgy to me. This is just a crude, odd woman. And don't even get me started on her joke of a marriage. I'd like to hear his side of things. Not only was this book icky and badly written, it also needed a good editor ...more
Jenny Whetzel
Oct 30, 2015 Jenny Whetzel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do not read this if you are wayyyyy too serious or are close-minded. I, however, found this to be rather hilarious. Jeni Decker is a RIOT! I love her sense of humor and her writing style. It wasn't until after I read the book that I saw so many reviews from naysayers. I was shocked. Humor can help us get through some of life's challenging times, and I think that is the main point of this book. I do not have autistic children but have worked with them before and still found this laugh out loud fu ...more
Jeanne Bannon
Oct 07, 2011 Jeanne Bannon rated it it was amazing
I Wish I were Engulfed in Flames is a heart warming, hilarious and real look at one woman's life raising two autistic sons. Jeni Decker is an amazing writer and an even more amazing mother. She deals with the trials of her life with humor and honesty. I was hooked after reading the first chapter 'Tickling the Weiner' and couldn't put the book down until I'd finished.

This book is a raw, unbelievably honest memoir, but most of all it is entertaining and very well written. My hat's off to you Jeni
Feb 17, 2013 Jennifer rated it did not like it
I cannot describe in enough words my hatred for this book. I have never in my life experienced such irritation and disgust as I did when I read this book. The sad truth is that I only got two thirds of the way through when I quit reading it. I have never read such selfish, whiny, garbage in my life! I also have a special needs child and would never say or do the things this woman did in the book.
Apr 14, 2012 Sharon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have two boys with autism. Mine fall somewhere in between the Lopez boys. I also a widow with an elderly father now living with us.
Ms Decker wants us to believe that living with autistic boys can be hilariously funny. She says her favorite author is David Sedaris and I think she tried too hard to imitate his writing style.
While I do agree there can be some funny situations raising such boys, it seems like the Decker-Lopez house is one big punch line after another.
Apr 18, 2012 Jeni rated it did not like it
I'm a mother with boys on the Autism spectrum. I found her book filled with stuff I didn't care about- her crazy family, problems with her marriage, etc. I wanted to read more about her boys. Yes, raising boys with autism can have funny moments- but I felt like it was just too much. The book is also very crude and just wasn't my style.
Misty Wagner
Apr 25, 2012 Misty Wagner rated it did not like it

This book is horrible. I continued to try and give it the benefit of the doubt but the writer simply grows more cold, crass, selfish and ignorant sounding as it progresses... WASTE OF MONEY!
Mar 25, 2013 Kayko rated it liked it
Again I wish there were a 3.5 rating to give this little gem. Embarrassed to say I learned a lot about Autism from this book. I loved her humor and perspective on raising her boys.
Aug 28, 2012 Amy rated it it was amazing
strongly recommended for anyone with a child who has autism/autistic spectrum disorder...many much needed laughs from this book. every chapter i read made me love and appreciate my son more and more!
Feb 27, 2012 Leigh rated it it was amazing
Okay, kids. Let me preface my review of I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker with a warning. If you are rendered insensible from frank discussion of topics such as homosexuality, masturbation, and poop, please gather your belongings and locate the nearest exit. Because, though I adore and value you as much as any of my readers, there is no point encouraging you to read a book that will upset your constitution. Each and every one of us have preferences in our reading material. If you a ...more
Jacqueline Johnson
Mar 11, 2017 Jacqueline Johnson rated it it was amazing
This book is a hilarious take on an often misunderstood disorder. Any parent who needs a few giggles along the journey of autism will enjoy this book...guaranteed!
Holli  Ronquillo
Dec 02, 2013 Holli Ronquillo rated it did not like it
No. Everything about this book is a no for me. I thought it was going to be a look at the sometimes humorous situations raising kids with autism (I mean, the title sort of implies that). Instead, her attempts at humor (that I didn't find funny) makes it seem as though she can't stand her children, her life, or her husband. Maybe she can't, but that's not really a book I want to read. It's not funny, it's sad.

Her humor feels cruel to me. She makes fun of her kids. She reveals completely private
Nicole Frail
Apr 03, 2012 Nicole Frail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it kept me intrigued during a few rough weeks at the gym. I read on my Kindle while I do my cardio and there were times while reading this book that I didn't even realize I'd surpassed the time I had originally wanted to spend on specific machines.

Reading about Jeni Decker and her sons, Jake and Jaxson, was eye-opening. I've read a fictional book that featured an autistic child as the main character, and I'd assumed it was an accurate portrayal of the condition an
Sep 27, 2012 Kathleen rated it liked it
Parts were humorous, parts not so much. I could relate to much of what Jeni Decker was saying, but sometimes it hit a little bit too close to home. For example, the story of when her youngest son, Jaxson, disappeared from the backyard. Jaxson was a completely non-verbal preschooler at the time and my heart I think, literally, stopped beating as I experienced that pain with her. My youngest is also non-verbal and I had never really contemplated that scenario before. You may ask...."Why not?" To w ...more
Susan Stec
Oct 07, 2011 Susan Stec rated it it was amazing
Decker brings humor and a new definition to the phrase 'maternal bliss' in this no-holds-barred look at raising two autistic boys. The memoir is not only entertaining but in between the laughs it gives an eye opening look at the world of autism.

Chapter titles that still make me giggle:

Can someone choke themselves with their bare hands?
Oprah's the reason my kid thinks I want to drown him in the tub.
No children were harmed during the making of this film.
Tickling the Weiner.

Jeni writes:

I welcome
Apr 26, 2012 Nadine rated it it was amazing
A mother with a sense of humor like Jeni's can't help but experience life with a smile (even though she may be in pain) because she sees the humor in the situation. Being a mother (I am one) is not at all tragic. It may well be melodramatic and stressful but with the right sort of perspective, it's all high comedy. Whether it's your children's unusual personality quirks, their intellectual brilliance or their location on some spectrum known as autism, they can stress you out. Most mothers with a ...more
Linda Marie Marsh
May 13, 2015 Linda Marie Marsh rated it liked it
Truthful. Funny. And sad.
So Decker has a few naysayers writing reviews? Read this book with an open mind and realize that it is HER point of view and she delivers it in a way that will have you gasping, laughing, bowing down, and giving her huge kudos. Put on your big girl ( or boy ) pants and know that this is HER story and this is how SHE tells it.
Jeni has 2 autistic sons and i am amazed that she has an ounce of sanity left. She'll be the first to say she can be snarky but the abundance of lov
Anne Trinkle
Aug 25, 2014 Anne Trinkle rated it it was amazing
There isn't enough room for me to express all the reasons I loved this book. The narrator was incredibly good, I actually thought it was the author until the end and the credits were read! This wonderful and wacky mom tells the stories of her life, living with two sons who have autism but who are very different in their functioning. She is brutally honest and my husband and I laughed so hard during some of her stories, I actually thought " You should be doing stand up about your life, Jeni!"
Sean Kottke
Feb 10, 2012 Sean Kottke rated it liked it
As a memoir on the author's "insane life," this is an entertaining, cathartic and laugh-out-loud read. As a memoir about "raising two boys with autism," it merely has its moments. Early and final chapters are superb, with spot-on, refreshingly unsentimental observations on living with youngsters on the spectrum. However, there's a great deal of material here in which the children are tangential: episodes from the author's childhood, stories about her marriages, reflections on her mother, grandmo ...more
Audra Middleton
May 01, 2012 Audra Middleton rated it it was amazing
I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker

I am in awe of Jeni Decker’s honesty, patience, and humor. I laughed, I cried, I learned a lot about autism. She thoughtfully puts herself in her kids’ shoes, and in so doing puts the reader in their shoes as well. It takes real courage to examine one’s life so honestly, let alone share it with others. It takes amazing strength of character to say no to a child when you know full well it is likely to induce a hellacious fit right there in Rite-Aid.
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Jeni Decker lives on a farm in rural Michigan with her husband, two autistic sons, two Australian Shepherds, and an albino frog named Humbert Humbert.
More about Jeni Decker...

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“You should write about your life. It's kind of funny. When it's not depressing as hell.” 3 likes
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