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The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story

3.42  ·  Rating Details ·  415 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
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, d ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by Algonquin Books
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Mar 10, 2013 Hiro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it. As a fellow Arteriovenous Malformation and Neurosurgery survivor.
Many people here are complaining that it "jumped around" too much- that there was "poor development", "no plot", "there should have been more continuity".... etc.
Maybe... Just maybe... That's how our minds work now...!

His way of writing, his whimsical and "fluid" expression, speaks to me greatly because that is how my mind works now- fragmented, hopping from idea to idea, thought to thought... Sometimes jumping, sometim
A Serious Lover
A compelling story about a young man of 25 having and recovering from traumatic brain injury due to a brain hemorrhage. Familes and those have suffered TBI would find this story of value.
Feb 07, 2013 Connie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-ve-read
The Day My Brain Exploded by Ashok Rajamani.
Pass up on this one. Don’t even bother. A 1 out of 10. Non-fiction. Ashok had an aneurysm burst in his head, followed by complications. He needs years of therapy and help. His brain needs to form new neurological paths for him to learn to walk, and function. Although it is written as if he remembers all the recovery day by day, it is fictionalized somewhat as he personally couldn’t have remembered all the details. But the dorkiest part is his being sur
Rebecca Holland
Dec 29, 2012 Rebecca Holland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ashok Rajamani: The Day My Brain Exploded, Algonquin Books, ISBN 978-1-56512-997-9

Ashok Rajamani was in his mid 20s when he had an aneurysm. He said his brain exploded. It was, as expected, a scary and crazy time for him as he has had to deal with a number of problems - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.

He had to relearn everything about himself, skills, talents, speech and the world around him.

He survived and in this tale, he details what happened, what has happened and gives an inside
Melissa Gallagher
Mar 07, 2013 Melissa Gallagher rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It did give me some insight and some greater understanding of the struggles he encountered and others in his situation encounter. However, the author focused so much on his race and the racism he encountered here, that it almost overshadowed his struggles. At times, it even seemed to be a stretch. For example, he quit a job due to "racism," justifying his hasty decision to taking a stand. However, the real issue that bothered him - people saying he was on drugs - very likely stemmed from his alc ...more
Jun 06, 2017 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is worth a skim if you or somebody you know suffered from an AVM bleed, but otherwise, there are better books about the brain out there. It's interesting to hear about Ashok's experiences and recovery, but overall, the narrative is disjointed and there's not a lot of continuity between sections. It reads more like a diary than anything else. I'd hoped for more information about his recovery and who he became after the stroke ("Ashok 2.0"), but more time was spent on anecdotes from his ...more
Mar 15, 2017 Elsa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
funny insightful read
I'm not sure exactly what I expected from this book, but I didn't like it as much as I'd thought I would.

It's written by a man who had an aneurysm (actually something more rare than that, I've forgotten the name... oh, AVM I think). His story of the experience and life after it.

His survival alone, and his remarkable recovery afterwards are pretty amazing. And I appreciate that his goal is to give people with brain damage hope -- he's pretty functional, though he's blind in one eye and suffers
Liesel Browning
Aug 30, 2016 Liesel Browning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jaja Shah-Mohen
Oct 11, 2014 Jaja Shah-Mohen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
More than one person told me not to read this book.

I'm glad I didn't listen to them. It's been a while since I last read a book that can make laugh, cry, or both at the same time.

Rajamani told the story of his aneurysm and the journey he took to heal and accept what happened to him with such frankness that it might be misconstrued as arrogance by some. He didn't sugarcoat how he felt about it, he didn't try to make him as though he has journeyed the path of enlightenment by the experience, and h
Jan 20, 2013 Marley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, 2013
It's hard to critique a personal experience but the writing seemed a little too whimsical at times, something about it kept me from being really deeply moved by the story of the author's recovery from a traumatic brain injury. The stories about the people in his support group stuck with me more than the author's own--they were perhaps more succinct, more easily understood as tragedies. A quick read that gave me a lot to think about but just didn't hit me emotionally, although all of the situatio ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Meaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a few other memoirs by people who dealt with medical crises and this seems to be fairly typical of them. Ashok Rajamani writes with a disarming frankness -- his brain bleed, he confesses happened while he was jerking off just a few hours before his brother's wedding -- and without self-pity.

I only wish he'd gone into more detail about his recovery. I gather it must have been remarkable; at the support group he went to, the others refused to believe it had only been five years since his
Mar 06, 2013 Alice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 06, 2013 Kelli rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When Ashok Rajamani suffers a brain bleed in his mid twenties that leaves him battling memory loss, vision problems, epilepsy and a host of other problems. This memoir covers Rajamani's life from the moments leading up to his brain bleed through his current condition. The memoir goes from Rajamani's childhood in rural Illinois, to his teen years, and his first employment experiences in his early 20s. I would have liked the book more if it had focused on the actual healing process and the daily s ...more
Lael Braday
Jun 19, 2013 Lael Braday rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A 25-year-old suffering an aneurysm is a tragedy. That 25-year-old sharing his story with us through writing is enlightening. I'm always amazed by people who are so open, who can share the most horrific things that happen to them. The book reads like a diary, alternating between the intense medical emergency and before and after shots of Rajamani's life. I could feel his overwhelming energy emanating from his writing. I know that the world can seem overly full of distracting stimuli to a person ...more
I wanted to like this book. It offers a potentially perfect mix of medical information, personal insight, reflection, and humor, but it was often crude, and I didn't particularly like Rajamani by the end. I appreciate the author's honesty, and his attempt to pin down the hallucinatory aspects of recovering from a brain bleed, but I wanted greater connection with both he and his family. I suspect that the organization of the book reflects the way that Rajamani's brain works now - at least that wa ...more
Jan 22, 2013 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone over the age of 14
This book is worth reading for so many reasons. First, it is a brutally honest account of a young man surviving an incredible brain injury and recovering to become his better self. Second, it is a real look at the science experiment medicine really is. Third, it is a great first person narrative about growing up as a first generation Indian American, in middle American suburbia--and how one develops an identity despite being consistently misunderstood. Fourth, it is a great story about family, a ...more
Sep 26, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My grandmother died of a brain aneurysm and I have always wondered what happens when that delicate organ explodes. Ashok Rajamani suffered the same and lived to tell the tale. From his sassy narrative voice to his constantly adjusting perception of himself in the world, Rajamani comes across as someone I would want to hang out with. It is hard to believe that he is living with a traumatic brain injury. His story gave me a whole new insight into the concept of "disability." I think this is a book ...more
Zi Ying
Feb 26, 2016 Zi Ying rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I appreciate the fact that there is a certain level of truth in a man who experienced brain aneurysm, but the writing prose is so bad that I couldn't find significance or feel connected to it. Despite the bad organisation, there is a severe lack of coherence between chapters, and one couldn't help but ask "what the hell I'm reading right now?". Soon, I put down the book as I don't feel like I want to know more of this guy. I think there could be a better way to express and articulate the experie ...more
Aug 07, 2013 Susanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This memoir is written by a young man who suffered a brain aneurysm and had to relearn not only basic bodily functions such as walking and seeing, but also redefine relationships with his parents, his brother, other people and himself. Of course, he sees the world through a different lens than before the injury, and is trying to rediscover himself. Another angle is the author's Indian heritage and the issues he encounters with being "non white". I enjoyed the writing style and recommend this boo ...more
I received a copy of this book as a give-away from Algonquin Books. I have mixed feelings about the book. The author gives an interesting insight into what it is like dealing with the aftermath of a stroke. I thought he jumped around in time a lot and would like to have seen more continuity. I also thought he showed a lack of maturity in certain areas. While I appreciate that he was baring his soul, I thought he was quick to accuse others of racism, and while there was probably some truth to tha ...more
So this guy has a stroke (more specifically defined in the book) in his 20s. The story spans his whole life though and it’s not always clear why. The book glosses over major moments like re-learning how to walk and talk and often focuses instead on his struggles growing up (e.g., racism). While that may be worth covering it’s not exactly on-topic and we don’t really learn much about the early (and probably toughest) part of his recovery. Nonetheless it was still interesting for those interested ...more
Suzie Q
Aug 04, 2013 Suzie Q rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
awesome book about a young man who is getting ready for his brother's wedding and has a brain bleed from an AVM. He has major brain surgery and survives learning to live all over again doing the basics of tasks with half his vision and newly developed epilepsy.

It is told in a candid lighthearted way not overly sad or medically technical. The book gives you hope in the light of his survival and challenges
Sue Davidson
Feb 20, 2014 Sue Davidson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author had a brain aneurysm at 25 that altered his life in almost every way. The topic was fascinating, the story interesting, the book crass and raunchy in places. Glad I read it as education on the suffering of a traumatic brain injury "victim." Also, I was fascinated and disturbed by his accounts of the prejudice he experienced because of his ethnicity. Recommend this book, but be prepared for some crude sections.
Jennice Mckillop
Interesting medical drama but spoiled by the unnecessary frequent references to his sexual behavior. And the vulgar words and innuendos.
Seems that he was trying too hard to be "cool" or "hip" or whatever is the current description for iconoclastic behavior.
It's still worth reading but expect to cringe.
Louis Picone
Sep 26, 2013 Louis Picone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I gave this book 5 stars is because Goodreads wouldn't let me give 6! I couldn't put this down once I got started - Ashok Rajamani really bares his soul in this memoir & you end up rooting in his corner for all to turn out OK, which considering the major brain damage he endured, it appears it has. Great book by a great individual I had the pleasure to meet recently
Katy Winans
Jul 29, 2013 Katy Winans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very inspirational and eye-opening. Makes me really want to change careers to something more meaningful than marketing. After all, marketing doesn't help people, but something - say, like teaching - does. Rajamani, being a former PR star, had a similar realization and I believe he's living a better life than most of us for it. Definitely read!
Claudia Reinfelds
"It required strength, courage, patience, and a paradoxical combination of resistance and surrende, but like many survivors, I was damaged but still alive."

A good description of what the author experienced, so the value of the reading, as a special educator, is high. I would not recommend this book to people coping with a disability, as the author's methods were random.
Jun 14, 2013 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. He suffered a massive brain bleed at age 25. After a few short months he looks absolutely normal yet his life has changed forever. This book describes his life before and after his injury and how he recovers and accepts what happened. I loved how his family took care of him and I loved his descriptions of everyday life after a catastrophic brain injury.
Mar 24, 2013 Melinda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow -- amazing memoir of a 25 year old who suffers an AVM (brain bleed). Honest, totally exposed feelings and thoughts. Story unfolds like a flower, but jumps from different points in time: his birth, present day, the day of the bleed, his youth, back to present day. Great writer, I hope he brings more books to the world.
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