Summary and book reviews of Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors

A Memoir

By Augusten Burroughs

Running with Scissors
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jul 2002,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2003,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

See also "Settlement reached in Running with Scissors suit" news story, 8/31/2007.

Excerpt
Running with Scissors

My mother is standing in front of the bathroom mirror smelling polished and ready; like Jean Nate, Dippity Do and the waxy sweetness of lipstick. Her white, handgun-shaped blow-dryer is lying on top of the wicker clothes hamper, ticking as it cools. She stands back and smoothes her hands down the front of her swirling, psychedelic Pucci dress, biting the inside of her cheek.

"Damn it," she says, "something isn't right."

Yesterday she went to the fancy Chopping Block salon in Amherst with its bubble skylights and ficus trees in chrome planters. Sebastian gave her a shag.

"That hateful Jane Fonda," she says, fluffing her dark brown hair at the crown. "She makes it look so easy." She pinches her sideburns into points that accentuate her cheekbones.

People have always said she looks like a young Lauren Bacall, especially in the eyes.

I can't stop staring at her feet, which she has slipped into treacherously tall red patent-leather pumps. ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Summary
Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead ringer for Santa, and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor’s bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules; there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, the Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock-therapy machine under the stairs...


Discusion Questions
  1. Author Augusten Burroughs was raised by his mother&#...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
Out Now

This is an American Grotesque...that the tale is true only adds to the hilarity--and the horror.

Library Journal

Burroughs has written an entertaining yet horrifying account that isn't for the squeamish: the scatological content and explicit homosexual episodes may limit its appeal.

Publishers Weekly

Beautifully written with a finely tuned sense of style and with the occasional cliche.

Booklist

Burroughs tempers the pathos with sharp, riotous humor in stories that are self-deprecating, raunchy, sexually explicit.... scatological, grotesque, and deeply affecting.

Author Blurb David Rakoff, author of Fraud
Simultaneously hilarious and horrific.

Reader Reviews
Jen

Shocking and Touching
I'll admit, there were chapters that made me feel almost violated because they were so grotesque. But these things happened to him...funny or appalling, things like this happen to people every day, usually not in this amount. The things that happened...   Read More

Denise (Trinidad)

Disgusting!
This is the most disgusting book I've ever read. It is very difficult to see the humour in it. The only reason I continued reading was because it is supposed to be true of someone's life. If it really describes the author's childhood, I honestly do...   Read More

Barbara

You have got to be kidding
There are very few books that once I get through them, I wish I had never read. I understand the fast-pace and the funny situations that other reviewers have noted, but I could not forget that this is supposed to be the story of a real person's life....   Read More

Olivia A.

Running With Scissors
This book is an awesome, exciting read and ridiculously funny. You never know what's going to happen next. It's a must read.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Running with Scissors, try these:

  • Blackbird jacket

    Blackbird

    by Jennifer Lauck

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    An incandescent memoir of an ordinary girl growing up at the turn of the 1970s and the truly extraordinary circumstances of a childhood lost. Wrenching and unforgettable, Blackbird will carry your heart away.

  • Chicken jacket

    Chicken

    by David Henry Sterry

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The funny, touching story of a sweet, wide-eyed son of Seventies Suburbia who spends a year as a teenage sex worker servicing rich, lonely women in Beverly Hills. A gripping story that explores what it means to suffer through the underbelly of the American Dream. And make it out alive.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  78Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.