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384 pages, ebook
First published June 11, 2019
At school, he is so much smarter than his classmates that he feels the weight of their stupidity on his chest -- even after the bell rings, like waking up from a nightmare to find yourself suffocating, still, under the heart-crushing burden of your fear.Sammy has no friends. He is convinced his parents don't love him. He believes that, somehow, he is "broken." "Broken," in the sense that he is incapable of feeling love, feeling emotion, feeling joy, feeling sadness, feeling excitement. He is numb.
In bed each night, he cries from 10:00 to 10:15 (he sets the timer on his bedside clock). It's almost a relief, this crying, though he can't explain from what.Years later, Sammy concludes that he is and always has been, in some sense, mentally ill.
You will find within its pages a number of recipes, all of which seem to promise great benefits to your health and well-being. To repeat: this is a work of fiction. Every recipe in this book, if ingested, will kill you. Every single one.From a scientific point of view, certain substances found in nature have the beneficial ability to remove free radicals from the human body, free radicals that may contribute to the aging and degenerative process. These substances cannot, in any significant amount, however, cross the brain-blood barrier. But mercury can cross that barrier. Sammy's recipes, in effect, used mercury to drag the drugs with it across the barrier. But mercury is a poison, and will kill if it remains in the brain for any length of time, and the body quickly attacks its ability to cross the barrier once it's detected in the brain. This attack by the body is counterproductive, because it leaves the mercury trapped on the brain side of the barrier.
[M]y God, it's a beautiful thing -- a five-year-old boy, learning his limits, surprising himself and his mother with his first act of patience. Watching him, I remember all of those feelings: the fear, the frustration, the hope for the future. I remember being young, when there was nothing worse than waiting.Over the years, Conrad has learned that -- for all their common brilliance -- he was not like Sammy. He was not broken. When he was 16, he had volunteered the words "I love you" to Sammy, a declaration that Sammy was unable to return. After Sammy's death, Conrad continued Sammy's research -- partly because of its intrinsic interest, but primarily out of respect for Sammy's wishes. At the end, he returns his aunt's love and that of his father. His temporary estrangement from home had been proof that he was a teenager, not that he was broken.