You’re Not Dead by Jason Garden

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You’re Not Dead chronicles its Hero’s travels during his ten-month hospitalization, beginning with his viral meningoencephalitis, and ending with his struggle to regain his life and independence. Acerbic and illuminating, You’re Not Dead pulls the reader into the Hero’s lived experience, while peeling away the layers of politeness we often use when discussing disability. The Hero is brutally honest as he writes of his journey through the medical system. He speaks of overwhelming pessimism, of pronouncements from “on high” made with little knowledge of his condition or progress, and of being spoken at, rather than being spoken to. You’re Not Dead is both devastating and inspiring, highlighting the importance of perseverance in the face of profound adversity.

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This book tells the life story of the author, through the eyes of his character named Hero. It is a story that is written in the minds and hearts of people we usually tend to overlook.

It is a very simple read. There are no complex terms, no bullshitting around. Just descriptions of what we could name “life after death”. Do not expect it to be fueled with action and whatnot, because it is not. You may all now be thinking: “Well, that sounds boring.”. And maybe you are right, but it depends on where you stand in life, where your viewpoint lays. If you want to read this story because you do not have anything else to do, and want to shorten your free time with something, then this story will be a drag and nothing special. If you, however, want to read the story, because you want to know what is going on in the head of someone whose life changed in the flicker of the light, then this is a story for you.

Now, while the process and time-lapse is done well enough, I personally missed more dialog and humor. The author describes what he was told that happened, or how he met new friends, but there is no back story to that, no anecdotes. Well, there are some, but the author did not go into details, and just stated that as a fact, but I believe that something like that was needed to keep the reader from getting bored. There was some humor, do not get me wrong, but I felt like it needed more.

Same with the dialogs that I mentioned. The author keeps telling us, how others told him what happened, but never provides a dialog. I know that things like that are hard to remember, but as a reader I want to be engaged. I want to see the situation unravel in my own mind. There was not enough of this, but again, do not get me wrong, there was some, and that some was done brilliantly. For example, the point when that doctor told our Hero that he will never walk again. I wanted to punch her in the face so bad that you cannot even imagine. And knowing that it is actually a true story made me feel even angrier. A story like this needs as much emotion as we can get, and I feel like there was not enough of that.

Another great point was that we were able to see the struggle. Not just the physical struggle, but the mental struggle too. And I must take my hat off to the author, because there was not a single time in the book that he would pity himself for being in his situation. No matter the falls, he just held his head up high and did not just pass his obstacles but destroyed them. Proving everyone wrong along the way.

I will pick this book up again and again, whenever I feel like MY life is bad. If nothing else, the book title will always stay with me. You’re not dead, Hero. Thank you.

Book recommendation: 7,5/10

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4 thoughts on “You’re Not Dead by Jason Garden

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