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Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen
Released: April 19, 1994
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Rating: 4 Page Turns

I bought this book because the price was right & I love the film adaptation of it.  This book provides an insightful look into what a young woman experienced during her time at a mental institution during the 1960s. For anyone who’s ever felt misunderstood or confused, or wondered if they might be crazy, reading about Susanna’s time at McLean Hospital is an eye-opening comfort.

The main character Susanna is someone who I identified with quite easily and by the end of the book I felt as if I knew her, certainly a mark of a well-written book! She voiced concerns that I think many women have when they’re a teenager or young adult such as whether or not they’re normal, if they’re making the right choices, how the future will turn out, etc. I enjoyed being able to watch Susanna grow and mature during her time in McLean; however, I wish that there had been more written about her time after her release.  There are mentions throughout of Susanna’s past boyfriends but they are not used as a major plot point, which I appreciated. I preferred to read about Susanna herself rather than her romantic relationships.

The hospital setting seemed fairly realistic and believable. There’s a feeling of class distinction between maximum security and the rest of the hospital which is interesting, even in the confines of a mental hospital there can be someone that is worse off than you are. When Susanna and her friends visit maximum security it serves as a sort of reminder that they could be worse off; it’s almost a reality check.  Rather than using the somewhat traditional narrative of how patients are incredibly mistreated, the author mentions both the good and the bad in terms of the doctors, nurses, and the facility overall.

There are breaks between what is occurring in the hospital and what Susanna is feeling and how she views her condition.  The story is told from Susanna’s point of view, which provides an immediate feeling of trust as if she is recording these thoughts in a journal or telling them to a friend. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and feel that it makes a nice companion piece to the film.

Recommend to those who…
Like the 1960s
Have an interest in mental health
Who like reading memoirs
Have a history of depression, anxiety, etc.

Favorite quote:
“Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.”

If you like Girl, Interrupted you may also like:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Have you read Girl, Interrupted? Have you seen the film version? Tell us what you thought below in the comments.