Why did you choose this book?
I chose this book because my sister was going to read it but then she, “didn’t have the time,” so I read it instead!
Explain the plot of the book, or if it is a non-fiction book, what topics are covered.
Girl, Interrupted is a memoir about a girl that lives in McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital for teenage girls. I encourage you to look up this hospital for yourself; please, read some reviews.
When she goes to this hospital, she meets fellow teenage girls who have various mental “problems”. (Are they really problems? Do they even have “problems”?) In her personal account of being at McLean, the reader is able to find out that they treated their patients horribly, using “techniques” such as the electric chair, wrapping the patient tightly in cold sheets, isolation, “purging” with leeches, electric shock to the brain, removing of the uterus, and being treated with thorazine and stelazine when a patient starts to think for herself…just to name a few.
After some time at the hospital, she starts thinking she’s crazy, she starts wondering if she’s is crazy, and that makes her go mad. This shows that if someone is surrounded by a certain “type” of people, they become “one” with them. (Sometimes.)
This is about a girl’s life being interrupted, and her journey through life.
“Interrupted” by being “crazy” or having her life put on pause? I don’t know…
Describe one of the characters in the book. Would you want to meet this character? Why or why not?
Kaysen, the author, doesn’t describe herself and other characters very much in this book, but I was able to pull a few facts.
Polly is a depressed girl who tried to commit suicide…by lighting herself on fire with gasoline and a match. She almost died. Kaysen doesn’t describe very much of her personality but she does describe her sadness.
Honestly, I’m not sure if I would or would not want to meet Polly. In the book, she seems almost fictionalized and I can’t picture her, I can’t even picture meeting her. If I did meet her I would be afraid her sadness would rub off on me, as depression sometimes does; but, I wouldn’t be afraid to help her and make her feel better.
“…what courage! Who had the courage to burn herself? Twenty aspirin, a little slit alongside the veins of the arm, maybe even a bad half hour standing on a roof: we’ve all had those…putting a gun in your mouth…it’s cold…your finger is on the trigger…a whole world lies between this moment and the moment you’ve been planning, when you’ll pull the trigger. That world defeats you. You put the gun back in the drawer. You’ll have to find another way.
What was that moment like for her? The moment she lit the match. Had she already tried roofs and guns and aspirins? Or was it just an inspiration?
I had an inspiration once…I knew that today I had to swallow fifty aspirin. It was my task: my job for the day…But it’s not the same as what she did…I could have done what I did do, which was go onto the street and faint. Fifty aspirin is a lot of aspirin, but going onto the street and fainting is like putting the gun back in the drawer.
She lit the match.”
-Susanna Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted)
(It’s kind of a long quote, I just wanted you to get the idea.)
This quote is about Polly. She had the “courage,” the sick courage it takes for a suicide attempt. She lit the match.
Isn’t her writing amazing?! It’s just a taste.
What is your opinion of the book? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?
I would definitely recommend this book! This book is amazing because of its sadness, and I know that sounds weird but it’s so raw, so…truthful and rich. 10/10, 100/100, 1000/1000, 10000/10000…and I’ll stop there.
This book was so amazing and beautifully written, like a poem, there were actually times where I could feel my heart sink and my heart stop.
Explain how this book is similar to another book, film, story, or article that you have read or seen. What connections or comparisons can you make?
This book is similar to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey. Both books are about a person in a psychiatric hospital, and their navigation through their life there.
Both of the hospitals that the main characters go to have unethical “treatments” for their patients. Both of the characters are forced to navigate life abruptly. Both characters are confused. Both of the characters descriptions of characters are shaky. Both of the characters have someone who tries to bring light to the situation, who tries to overthrow the one in power. (It ends up differently for the different books…kind of.) What did they have to endure in those hospitals?
What do you think the main idea or theme of this story is? What is the author trying to tell you about life or our world with this book?
I think that Kaysen wanted to write about her memories, what she thought, what she felt. I think she wanted us to understand what she’s been through. Not to sympathize, but just so we know.
Her time at McLean seemed like a fog in her memories, a cloud that she couldn’t see through, couldn’t quite grasp, couldn’t quite remember. Why?
What happened at McLean Hospital?
It was the doctor, in the ward, with the thorazine…not really, but the nurses seemed to “kill” the “patients'” feelings.
McLean is a hospital in Massachusetts and I hope to see it when I go there.
McLean Hospital Look it up. Perhaps it has gotten better.
- One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
- Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Thanks for reading! 🙂 Please check out some of my other posts to get good reading suggestions. Feel free to comment below!