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

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3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  421 ratings  ·  83 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 961)
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Colette Guerin
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
Jenn
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
Flappiness Is
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
Diane Castle
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
...more
Karyl
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
...more
Elaine
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
Lois Schulz
I never quit reading a book, I always finish. I actually quit on this one. Totally disgusted by the author.
Denise

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
...more
Danielle Hughes


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
...more
Chelsea
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
Jeanne Bannon
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
...more
Anne Trinkle
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!"
Now
...more
Sharon
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.
Jennifer
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.
Jeni
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


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!
Amy
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!
Nicole
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
...more
Kathleen
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
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
...more
Nadine
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
Holli  Ronquillo
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
...more
Sean Kottke
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
Becca
Brutally honest, hilarious and, at times, genuinely heart-warming. Not for the faint of heart (or easily offended), Jeni writes honestly and uncensored about her life as a stay-at-home mom with her two autistic children. From bathroom challenges, discussions with her preteen about private parts, to her youngest's compulsion to hump, well, anything, she doesn't sugarcoat reality. And the reality is, her and her children have a unique set of challenges they've been dealt.

"But, maybe because of how
...more
Audra Middleton
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.
...more
alana
Jeni Decker is a funny lady, and I definitely laughed audibly on the train while reading this book. However, some of the stories she recounts and the ways she expresses herself are just too off-putting for me to genuinely enjoy the book as a whole. I skipped the chapters on hemorrhoids and her husband's kidneys. There are some wastelands I just can't wade through.

Initially, I was uncomfortable feeling her kids were being dragged into the public eye for humor's sake...but clearly this is Decker'
...more
Carolyn Foley
I got this book on my kindle in an amazon special 4 books for $4.99. I read the reviews on amazon and there were lots of comments about folks not liking all the sexual remarks in the book. Well they really didnt bother me; I mean look at it this way....this is HER LIFE! Having to deal with two autistic children that have fears and anxieties of germs and if dingle berries are part of that she has to deal with it. I think this was the best way she could express her rants about her life.
There were
...more
Carrie Penter
Having an autistic child, I went looking for books specifically about ASD and raising a child who has it. I have to say I loved this book. Some of the reviews I read made me hesitant but it was a very good book. I laughed, I cried, I couldn't put it down. I could really relate to her.
Flannery
The honest, uncensored account of trying to fumble your way through life while raising two children on the spectrum, as if getting through life and raising typical children wouldn't be hard enough!
Kristin R
An irreverent look at being a mom of two kids with autism.

It's nice to see that the Mom doesn't get so absorbed in her children's diagnosis that she loses all of herself.
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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.” 1 likes
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