Summary and book reviews of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen X
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Apr 1994, 168 pages

    Genres

  • 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" articles
  • 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 $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • 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" articles
  • 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 $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Susanna Kaysen

If you liked Girl, Interrupted, try these:

  • Hidden Valley Road jacket

    Hidden Valley Road

    by Robert Kolker

    Published 2021

    About this book

    The heartrending story of a midcentury American family with twelve children, six of them diagnosed with schizophrenia, that became science's great hope in the quest to understand the disease.

  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 jacket

    Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982

    by Cho Nam-joo, Jamie Chang

    Published 2021

    About this book

    A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea's new feminist movement, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 follows one woman's psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • 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 $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free

Discover books that
entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Blizzard Party
    The Blizzard Party
    by Jack Livings
    It is 1978 and the place is New York City. A massive bacchanalian party is taking place at an Upper ...
  • Book Jacket: The Light of Days
    The Light of Days
    by Judy Batalion
    Renia, Sarah, Zivia, Frumka, Hantze, Tosia, Vladka, Chajka, Gusta, Hela, Bela, Lonka, Tema, Chasia, ...
  • Book Jacket: Hummingbird Salamander
    Hummingbird Salamander
    by Jeff VanderMeer
    In Hummingbird Salamander, Jeff VanderMeer weaves cybersecurity, bioterrorism, wildlife trafficking ...
  • Book Jacket: The Women of Chateau Lafayette
    The Women of Chateau Lafayette
    by Stephanie Dray
    The Women of Chateau Lafayette, Stephanie Dray's latest work of historical fiction, revolves around ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Of Women and Salt
    by Gabriela Garcia

    A kaleidoscopic portrait of generations of women from a 19th-century Cuban cigar factory to the present day.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Widow Queen
    by Elzbieta Cherezinska

    The epic story of an 11th century Polish queen whose life and name were all but forgotten until now.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Miss Austen
by Gill Hornby
A witty, poignant novel about Cassandra Austen and her famous sister, Jane.
Win This Book!
Win The Beauty of Your Face

A New York Times Notable Book of 2020

"Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core."
Marie Claire

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's N S O M N

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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.