Sean Kottke's Reviews > I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames: My Insane Life Raising Two Boys with Autism

I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker
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's review
Feb 18, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012, adult-professional
Read from February 10 to 14, 2012

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, grandmother and sister, and a TMI chapter about her hemorrhoids, to cite a few examples. The inclusion of several writings from one of the author's son is terrific for deepening the book's perspective on ASD. In the end, I'm left wondering whether Decker really intended to add significantly to the literature on autism, or to simply write a David Sedaris-style book of raucous, mildly subversive autobiographical essays.

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