Summary and book reviews of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted
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  • Paperback:
    Apr 1994, 168 pages

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Book Summary

"Searing . . . captures an exquisite range of self-awareness between madness and insight."

First published in 1994. Reprinted and a bestseller in 2000 (due to movie based on the book).

In the late 1960s, the author spent nearly two years on the ward for teenage girls at McLean Hospital, a renowned psychiatric facility. Her memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perceptions, while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers.

"Searing . . . captures an exquisite range of self-awareness between madness and insight."--Boston Globe.

Toward a Topography of the Parallel Universe

People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can't answer the real question. All I can tell them is, It's easy.

And it is easy to slip into a parallel universe. There are so many of them: worlds of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These worlds exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it.

My roommate Georgina came in swiftly and totally, during her junior year at Vassar. She was in a theater watching a movie when a tidal wave of blackness broke over her head. The entire world was obliterated - for a few minutes. She knew she had gone crazy. She looked around the theater to see if it had happened to everyone, but all the other people were engrossed in the movie. She rushed out, because the darkness in the theater was too much when combined with the darkness in her head.

And after that?...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The questions that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading of Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted. We hope they will provide you with new ways of looking at--and talking about--a book whose style and subject matter are equally provocative. As she recounts her two-year sojourn in a Boston psychiatric hospital and her experience of what she calls the "parallel universe" of madness, Kaysen compels readers to consider how thin the line is that separates "madness" from "sanity," deviance from normalcy, and treatment from control. Her memoir forces us to ask what role Kaysen's gender had in her diagnosis and hospitalization. And it makes us wonder whether some forms of mental disturbance are not really illness, but, rather,...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Library Journal

This is a powerful and moving account of the 17 months Kaysen spent on a ward for teenage girls at McLean Psychiatric Hospital.... This is a well-written account of one woman's journey into madness and back.

Kirkus Reviews

When Kaysen was 18, in 1967, she was admitted to McLean Psychiatric Hospital outside Boston, where she would spend the next 18 months. Now, 25 years and two novels (Far Afield, 1990; Asa, As I Knew Him, 1987) later, she has come to terms with the experience - as detailed in this searing account. ...... Every word counts in this brave, funny, moving reconstruction. For Kaysen, writing well has been the best revenge.

Reader Reviews

Elizabeth S. Fasano

Crisp, Elegant Prose...One of the Main Inspirations For My Own Writing
The book, Girl Interrupted - (to be radically distinguished from the movie based on it) - is one of the most masterful pieces of writing of the 21st Century. The book's clear, crisp, spare prose style is so elegant and masterful that I like to ...   Read More

jay jae

realistic one
It gives me the hint about the different personality disorders and how they behave as they are. As SPED student it makes me aware of it. Awesome!!!!!

Giselle

I'm fourteen years old and a freshman in high school. I chose to write about this book for a reading journal in my english class. It gave me an insight into the lives of mental patients and made me think about the difference between crazy and sane. ...   Read More

Chris

The story gave me an outlet and was so captivating that I could not put the book down and have recommended it to all of my friends. I am still recommending it to people even though I read it about two years ago, when I was 15. Being 17 now I still ...   Read More

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