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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Title: Girl, Interrupted
Author: Susanna Kaysen
Genre: Memoir
Length: 192 pages
Published: 19th April 1994 by Vintage
I've been wanting to read this book for SUCH a long time. I've seen the film (and loved it) and had been pondering about the book for ages, until I spotted it in a charity shop for £1! I bought it (obviously) and finished it the same day. It's a verrrry short book, and is possibly the thinnest book I own. I didn't want to call this post a 'book review', because it's a non-fiction memoir and I'd feel kind of weird commenting on 'characters' that are/were actual real life people. So kind of like I did with Anne Frank's Diary, I'm just gonna chat about it.

This book documents Susanna Kaysen's two year stint in a mental hospital, where she is diagnosed and treated for Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm just gonna say this now: for a short book, this is pretty intense. Like, on the level of Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Suicide and panicked, racing thoughts feature heavily in this book, as well as mentions to several other mental illnesses.
The way the book is written is quite choppy and erratic, but I didn't find it confusing. It's written almost as if she were writing as she was remembering, with odd memories coming back at random intervals. Some of the scenes are quite short, where-as others could go on for several pages. Personally, I do feel like some content isn't fleshed out enough for the reader to grasp a true understanding of the situations, and some things are very vague. But the book really is a mix between very intense moments which are written quite brutally, and very 'ordinary' moments, and it was nice to switch between the tempos. There are also several hospital reports printed in the book regarding Kaysen during her stay, including her admission papers. I found some of the writing to be very difficult to make out, so I didn't fully read all of it, but I think it's a clever and honest addition to the book.
Overall, I really liked this book, despite it's vague moments. It was very intense at times, but as someone who suffers from mental health issues, it didn't shock me as much as it might other people. I also really recommend watching the film of this book, which is also titled Girl, Interrupted and features Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. Again, there are some very intense/upsetting scenes, so please be wary. I've given this book 3.5/5 stars.

If you liked Girl, Interrupted, I'd recommend Asking For It by Louise O'Neill and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.


  1. Good review/"discussion"! The book seems really interesting, I've heard of it before but didn't realise that it is a memoir. I tempted to read the book but I'm a little apprehensive as you've only given it 3.5 out of 5. Do you reckon it is worth the read?

    1. Totally worth the read! I only marked it down by 1.5 stars because of it's lack of detail at certain parts. Overall it was really interesting! X

  2. This definitely sounds interesting! I haven't even seen the movie before.

    Renee | Lose The Road

    1. I really recommend the movie if you're interested by the book! It's a very detailed adaption x

  3. I read the book a couple of years ago and it's really stayed with me. I think it's quite important that books about mental health issues are now coming out more and more frequently as these issues are often pushed under the carpet a bit

    Steph - http://nourishmeclean.blogspot.com

    1. Totally. I did a blog post a little while ago about 'Fictional Books About Mental Health' and I was surprised at how many I own! I think I naturally gravitate towards them because of my own mental health issues x

  4. This book sounds really interesting, I haven't heard of it before but I am always intrigued my memoirs. Will have to look out for it! x

    Bethan Likes

    1. If you like memoirs then I think you'll like this! x


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