Review: Burn This City to the Ground by N. Daniel

☆☆➹⁀☆ 4.5 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆

About the Book:

As Daniel recovers from a psychotic episode and months long mental health civil commitment, he befriends a youthful quadriplegic named Samantha who is dealing with life-threatening health problems. When cohabitation becomes necessary for Sam, caregiver and client both move to downtown Minneapolis to begin a new life together. Before they can get settled in, Daniel is diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and must undergo multiple surgeries. The two navigate the American healthcare system and work towards Samantha’s eventual independence, however, their relationship becomes toxic when a global pandemic shakes the nation and George Floyd is murdered by Minneapolis police officers.

Based on the author’s life, this endearing platonic love story is the gooey center of a turbulent world set aflame. Through the laughter and the tears, Samantha and Daniel play off each other like a tragic comedy duo that’s hell bent on finding humor within the most savage aspects of their everyday lives.



Guest Reviewer Frannie’s Thoughts:

It is a heart wrenching novel of a young man’s personal struggle for independence and his desire to find a true and honest reason for living.  Initially, Daniel, the protagonist, lives with his mother outside of Minneapolis upon his release from a mental institution.    His first job back into the community is at a thrift store folding clothing.  He believes that life has a purpose and discards this job in search of some type of meaningful existence.  Burdened by his past, he takes the only job that he is somewhat qualified for, that of a healthcare provider for disabled people both physically and emotionally.  Desperate for workers, the healthcare system embraces him in the hope that he will not “burn out” too quickly.  As a recruit, Daniel is transferred to numerous homes and facilities (communities) with disabled people who are understandably angry about their situations.  Consequently, he rapidly learns to deal with difficult people who are emotionally scared.  He embraces this newly found vocation of helping the needy and quickly learns to care for disabled clients who are helpless.  

The book addresses the extremely sensitive position that a caregiver endures with respect and dignity, while describing in detail the mundane and tedious tasks they undertake every day.  Often their clients are not grateful and in so much pain they indignantly lash out at their helpers.  This is the case with Samantha, the antagonist, who is a youthful quadriplegic who attempts to alienate others with her caustic personality.  In order to fend people off, Sam has developed a protective barrier that includes a subversive attitude in order to mask her despair and hopelessness.  She constantly talks about dying.  

Daniel’s quest for a purposeful life brings them together.  He needs independence and  he is determined to help Sam acquire her own independence.  His objective is to give her some hope to dissuade her fear and desire to die.  He agrees to move in with her and become her full-time caregiver. This gives them both independence which allows them to fight their battles together.  But as their relationship develops, Sam’s dark humor and scathing wit becomes more profound through her relentless criticism of Daniel’s lack of personal hygiene, tidiness, and timeliness.  Daniel becomes demoralized, but he stays with her agreeing to take on Sam’s demons.  All the while he has his own struggles which include fighting cancer and nurturing his own mental health issues.  Although Daniel has kind, graceful and selfless attributes, he still questions his choice to help others who have no regard for him.   

The story is depressing at times.  It pulls in so many important human interactions such as spirituality and the growth of turbulence in our society.  Daniel examines his belief in the Buddhist teachings of meditation, not losing oneself, the ability to maintain serenity, and the capacity for compassion for others.  Sam deals with her belief in Christianity and the unfair incidents that have occurred to her at such a young age.  Both are poignant questions for the reader to ponder.  

The author also takes an introspective look at the social unrest that was occurring in many cities during 2020 and 2021.  The burning of cities in the wake of  George Floyd’s senseless death, looting, violence, destruction, and murders. It also discusses the early start of the COVID pandemic, and the isolation and despair people endured.  N. Daniel takes an in-depth look at the human psyche.      

The author bares his soul to the reader and brings the reader into his world.  His does not shy away from uncomfortable situations.  Instead, he broadens the reader’s understanding of the plight of individuals with physical and mental disabilities.  It makes you question if you will find your personal fulfillment in this life?  Thought provoking, it is worth reading.    


About the Author: N. Daniel is a medical caregiver located in the greater Minneapolis / Saint Paul Metropolitan area.  His second book, “Burn the City to the Ground” is a true story based on his battle with Mental Health issues and experience as a caregiver.  His debut book was entitled “Corners Untouched by Madness:  A Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Illness.”  N. Daniel lives with his wife Pakou and their two dogs outside of Minneapolis.  Facebook:  NDanielAuthor; Twitter/Instagram:  MyUnsafePlace.  

© Copyright 2021 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.

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