Summary and book reviews of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Apr 1994, 168 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

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,...
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

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

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 Girl, Interrupted, try these:

  • Ostrich jacket

    Ostrich

    by Matt Greene

    Published 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    A brilliant and moving coming-of-age story in the tradition of Wonder by R. J. Palacio and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - this debut novel is written with tremendous humor and charm.

  • All of Me jacket

    All of Me

    by Kim Noble

    Published 2012

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Taking the reader through an extraordinary world where the very nature of reality is different, this personal narrative tells the story of one woman's terrifying battle to understand her own mind.

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
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Certain Age
    A Certain Age
    by Beatriz Williams
    Lovers of high-society gossip, there's a new set of players in town. A good 20 out of 23 of our...
  • Book Jacket: The Romanovs
    The Romanovs
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore
    The Romanovs chronicles the reigns of the 20 individuals who were considered members of that dynasty...
  • Book Jacket: Barkskins
    Barkskins
    by Annie Proulx
    Barkskins, by Annie Proulx, is not a book to read quickly. After a month of slow reading, I ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Imperial Wife
    by Irina Reyn

    A smart, engaging novel that parallels two fascinating worlds and two singular women.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Secret Language of Stones
    by M. J. Rose

    "A fantastic historical tale of war, love, loss and intrigue."
    – Melanie Benjamin

    Read Member Reviews

Members review books pre-publication. Read their opinions in First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Fair Fight
by Anna Freeman

A page-turning novel set in the world of 18th century female pugilists.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Summer Stunner
Summer Giveaway

Win 5 books, each week in July!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W M T N, W C F All

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

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

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

BookBrowse Summer Giveaway

We're giving away
5 books every
week in July!