Based on the author’s 2-year incarceration in McLean’s psychiatric hospital, Girl, Interrupted establishes itself as an unnerving yet brilliant memoir by Susanna Kaysen. Let’s dive into this Girl, Interrupted book review.
What Girl, Interrupted Is About
The novel details Kaysen’s introduction to the hospital at just 18 years old for what she believed to be “a rest.” She explores her life before and after treatment and gives her own takes on mental health and stigma.
The author also details what some of her fellow patients are up to. She reminds us of the fine line between what she describes as the “parallel universe” between being “sane” and “insane.”
With letters and documents from Kaysen’s treatment and short, to-the-point chapters, the reader is constantly reminded that this is not a light-hearted fictional book but an authentic and harrowing account of incarceration. This is not a story told in a chronological sequence as it leaps from topics and scenes but remains compelling and keeps readers on their toes.
This book was so raw; I love how she had no qualms putting herself out there like this. Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the most highly stigmatized mental illnesses. People with BPD are painted as monsters, manipulators, abusive, liars, etc., but Kaysen challenges this.
Ultimately, this was a book I felt genuinely sad at finishing because of how much I enjoyed reading it, and I would recommend it.
I also really enjoyed the movie adaption of Girl, Interrupted with Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie.
If you’re interested in books about mental health, you may also enjoy Me & My Mate Jeffrey by Niall Breslin.
Ironically, Susanna’s hospital is the same one Sylvia Plath spent some time in, which largely inspired The Bell Jar.