This is an autobiography. The author suffered from an AVM, which means arteriovenous malformation. This is a congenital defect that occurs to the fetus during the third month of pregnancy. The veins and arteries become tangled in the brain. The person is essentially a ticking time bomb. AVMs often occur during periods of exertion or strain--such as going to the bathroom or giving birth. In the author's case, he was masturbating. One of his last thoughts before he lost consciousness was that they were right about the bad effects of masturbation.

The author, though, tells a bit of his life before the AVM. Sometimes this gets confusing, because he jumps between the past and present. Sometimes you don't understand why he has chosen to tell a particular story. He talks of his early life growing up. His parents were immigrants from India who settled in a primarily Caucasian neighborhood. He, of course, encountered some prejudice. It details the jealousy he had for his more successful brother.

The story also talks about the events that occurred after the AVM and how he had to readjust to a new life. He had to relearn how to walk, eat, etc. The AVM left him blind and gave him epilepsy. He also suffered from what is known as "Alice in Wonderland" syndrome--a condition where a person believes that their body parts are larger than they are supposed to be...or they see other objects or people in a distorted way. Another difficulty was that he didn't seem to truly understand his disabilities--and he tended to misinterpret people's reactions. He often thought they were being prejudiced against him because he was an Indian rather than that they were reacting to his odd behavior or his decreased functionalism.

The book is well written. I chose it because I had a stepfather who suffered from a brain condition. It was not an AVM, but he experienced many of the same things that Rajamani did. In 1991, my stepfather had a brain tumor the size of an orange. They operated on him. The brain tumor was able to disguise itself to look like brain tumor. They didn't wind up removing as much brain tumor as they did brain tissue. When my stepfather emerged, he had the I.Q. of an eight year old. In time, he was able to recover until he had the IQ of a twelve year old.

Rajamani did give me some insight into what my stepfather went through (my stepfather died in 2005). However, I can't really say I enjoyed the book. I was rather shocked when I found myself getting angry at circumstances that were similar to what I had gone through as a caretaker. Ashok Rajamani had many of the annoying traits my stepfather did. It did make me wonder if brain injuries often produce the same personality traits (is it the illness?)...or do certain personality types develop certain conditions?

It was often difficult with my stepfather to separate fact from fiction. When he died, we felt guilty when we realized he had been telling the truth about some things. However, it was difficult. He often thought people who were genuinely trying to help him were trying to hurt him. Therefore, if he did encounter a bad nurse or doctor, we were not always inclined to believe him unless we saw it with our own eyes. To make things more complicated, like the author, my stepfather seemed more functional than he actually was. He maintained a good vocabulary, and so people often thought he understood more than he really did.

Like Rajamani, my stepfather often tended to resent people whose lives were going well. He often thought they didn't deserve it. He felt like it should have been him because he was smarter, he was more talented, and people liked him better. Why this was particularly annoying was that really my stepfather thought more highly of himself than what was true. Even if he hadn't been sick, I doubt he would have been as accomplished as he thought he would have.

My stepfather (like Rajamani) also didn't always behave appropriately, and there were many times I was mortified beyond belief (like the time he commented on how developed physically a thirteen year old neighbor was...which while true, was just totally inappropriate).

So the book brought up a lot of bad memories for me, and that made it difficult for me to enjoy it. If readers are sensitive to bad language or vulgarity, they may have problems with this book. I also thought the ending was rather abrupt. He went from being self-pitying and resentful to suddenly being at peace with the world. I almost had wondered if someone else hadn't written the ending, or else he wrote it a lot later than the rest of the book.