Girl, Interrupted

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | April 19, 1994 | Trade Paperback

Girl, Interrupted is rated 4.0833 out of 5 by 24.
In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 192 pages, 7.93 × 5.15 × 0.53 in

Published: April 19, 1994

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679746048

ISBN - 13: 9780679746041

Found in: Biography and Memoir

save 9%

  • In stock online
$17.95 list price

$16.16 ea online

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Girl, Interrupted I must admit that I watched the movie before I read the book. I was renting movies with a friend, and we just picked it up. It was really good, and I was excited when I found out it was based on a book. The book was very different from the movie (in a good way). The memoir looks at issues like the social stigma of being "mentally ill", along with the question of what is sane and what is insane? A very interesting read, and I would recommend both the movie and the book to anyone.
Date published: 2010-08-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow! I was impressed with this book! It was really insightful and well written. I did watch the movie before reading this, but I appreciated the book much more. It went more in depth and the author had a quirkier way of presenting things. The length of this book could be seen as a positive or negative. It was really short- allowing you to consume it quickly, but it also left you wanting more.
Date published: 2009-07-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Different Kind of Memoir First off, I do have to comment about how I saw the movie of this book, before I read it. I do like the book better though. You can where Hollywood changed things just to "spice it up" in a way. Which I wish they wouldn't do with people's memoirs. It takes something away from the real story. Susanna's memoir is a bit different than any other I have read before. Usually, a memoir is more about the person's feelings during a certain part of their lives. Girl, Interrupted is more about people Susanna met while staying in a mental hospital. She does give the reader and idea of how she felt, but again, it was more about how she felt about the people around her. She also does give information on what she was diagnosed with. I did enjoy this book. I think it was really well written and put together well. However, I wish would have written more about her!
Date published: 2009-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stimulating I purchased this book upon hearing raving reviews from a distant friend of mine. At first i was skeptical but upon reading the first few chapters, i was entranced. The writing is amazingly done and the author has a profound talent of putting the reader into her shoes. At times i could completely see how one would be able to cross the line of sanity. This biography was an absolute pleasure to read, most definitely a page turner. I would recommend it to youth and adults alike.
Date published: 2008-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting tale, but doesn't keep too much interest After Susanna overdosed on drugs trying to kill herself, her parents send her to therapy. She is sent to a therapist on the other side of town and after only 30 minutes, the therapist decides that Susanna should be admitted to the famous psychiatric hospital McLean, where Ray Charles and John Nash have stayed. Just from this decision made in 30 minutes, Susanna loses a year and a half of her life staying in the hospital. They diagnose her with borderline personality syndrome. Susanna tells of the friends she makes in the hospital and their stories. Some are sad, some are funny. But really the point of this book is to determine what defines us as crazy? And can a single doctor, in 30 minutes, really determine properly if someone belongs in a hospital? Isn't everyone a little crazy? I found some of Susanna's commentary on her disease to be a bit tiresome, but the last chapter on it was very interesting. Having seen the movie, I was expecting something entirely different. The book is nothing like the movie at all - and in this case I found the movie to be more interesting, even if less realistic, than the book.
Date published: 2008-09-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very interesting! Interesting. Different from what I was expecting. The book focused a lot more on her observations of the hospital and the people in it rather than her own problems. It was a lot less personal and psychological than anticipated. Regardless, I still enjoyed it a fair amount.
Date published: 2008-08-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Convincing I read this book for my English class and found it refreshingly odd. And, honestly? Odd is good once in a while. I found you could actually throw yourself into the story as well and believe that all of it was happening. The documents included between parts of the book bring in this reality, as well as her scattered recollections. One chapter she's moved a pace, the next she's remembering something that happened earlier and therefore your own sense of chronology is lost. That's pretty much awesome, if a bit confusing to the reader. But sometimes that's what you need to remind yourself that your own memories are just as scattered. And, well, you know *laughs* the entire world's insane anyway so why bother to understand what triggers someone to think you're insane? Oooh, tough one...
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Praying for the courage to press on that knife This novel is an incredible read, i had watched the movie and fell in love and the novel is even better. It is for anyone who has ever felt that their life has been interrupted by madness, of all kinds.
Date published: 2001-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Madness of the Mind As a sufferer of Borderline Personality Disorder, I felt it necessary that I read the book. The intriguing characters are so well depicted that it's hard to believe they aren't ficticious. It was easy to understand to Susanna Kaysen, because her blunt honesty and character relate to my own personality as well. The author's writing techniques are great and she is a truly amazing woman.
Date published: 2000-12-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Girl, Interrupted An amazing truthful tale about a young girl growing up in the 60's! Most people have seen the movie, but few have read the book. START READING. Its a must read for everyone, girls, fathers, grandmothers. I should know I passed it on to my dad and grandmother to read. Its beautiful, clever and ultimately a great read. A real page turner, and a wonderful look on life. Susanna Kaysen, spent a year of her life in a mental institution, and Girl, Interrupted tells that tale in an utmost profound way.
Date published: 2000-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a true mesmerizing tale This book gave the reader the idea of what it's like to grow up in the 60's. Susanna Kaysen's life was not unlike a lot of our own. She had difficutly trusting people, and she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. Thus it lead her to the attempt of suicide. She was then brought to a psychiatric hospital with a diagonosis of 'borderline personality'. She then, after a while of getting to know her fellow friends, decided that this was where she belonged. Not because she was crazy, but becasue for once she felt as though someone actually care about her, and she had found someone that she cared about as well. This story was absolutly amazing the way Susanna made you feel like you were right there beside her as her life went on. Susanna Kaysen was indeed a girl, interrupted. This book was a true mesmorizing tale.
Date published: 2000-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Girl Interrupted Girl Interrupted gave everyone the view of what it's like, to grow up. Susanna Kaysen's world was not unlike some of our own. She had trouble figuring out what she wanted to do with her life, she had difficulties trusting people, and often kept her feeling inside. This drove her the the peak of attempting suicide. After she was sent to the hospital, she stayed there for the mere fact that she felt as though she belonged. It wasn't because she was crazy, and it wasn't because she needed to be there. It was because for once in her life, she felt as though someone actually cared about her, and she found people she cared about as well. The title of the book is absolutly perfect. Before even reading the book or the summery, you get the sense of what it is about. And Susanna Kaysen was, without a doubt, just a girl, interrupted.
Date published: 2000-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! This book by Susanna Kaysen, on her struggles through life in the 60's was written amazingly. This book gives you the feeling that you are actually there going through all of this with her, it was written fabulously! I saw the movie before the book and I think the movie was portrayed very well! Amazing book and a good movie! This is definetely a good book to read, especially if you're at that time in your life where you don't know what you want to do or be. This is helpfull to let you know your not odd because you feel that way, it happens to most people, some more than others, but this is a good book to read for a bit of guidance.
Date published: 2000-10-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor I've read many books on the subject of psychology and i must say that for a true story this is one of most uneventful books I have ever read. When I read the back I expected that the author would explain how she managed to pull herself from her obsessions and maintain a regular life. The book barely covers anything on her present life and only concentrates on her years in a psychiatric hospital. I think for a lot of people who suffer from Mental Health problems it would have been much more helpful if she had gotten into more details on how exactly she managed to free herself from her obsessions and maintain a regular life.
Date published: 2000-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's All In Our Heads I had heard about the novel before the movie had came out, but never got the chance to read it. As soon as I saw the movie I bought the book immediately and was pleasantly surprised that the book gave a more indepth view. It makes you feel like you're there on the couch next to her. The way she writes about the other characters (and herself) is captivating. Everything in it is real and believable. It makes you think, maybe " to stay sane you have to go crazy "!
Date published: 2000-06-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Movie was better You know how everyone always says the book is always better than the movie. Well they are dead wrong in this case. I read the book about a year before the movie came out, and because the book was so bad I had serious doubts about watching the movie when it came out. But I did, and am I glad I did. The story was awesome and the acting really wonderful. The only reason I would recommend this book to anyone would be so they could compare it to the movie.
Date published: 2000-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent :) I saw the movie a while ago, and thought that it was very, very good. I decided I would read the book to see how good it could be. It turned out to be an excellent book and everything in it is so true, I would recommend seeing the movie, AND reading the book.
Date published: 2000-05-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Choppy at Best I decided to purchase this book after seeing the movie (starring Wynona Ryder) And yes I do know that books and movies are very rarely ever the same, but just the same I was extremely dissapointed with this story, it was choppy, there were official looking documents stuck in in what appears to a random order, they really give no insite into the book and are pointless. If I had to do it over again I would NOT have purchased this book.
Date published: 2000-04-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from *yawn* Usually when I read a book it will make me think and thus extend the amount of time it takes me to read it. I read this book in 2 hours, the spine didn't even get broken! I did not enjoy it. The theme has been better tackled in other books like "Prozac Nation" (I can't remember the author's name...)
Date published: 2000-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Girl, Interrupted After one session with a bullying doctor, the author, aged eighteen, was admitted to McLean Psychiatric hospital outside Boston where she would spend the next eighteen months. Now, twenty-five years later, she has come to terms with the experience as detailed in this moving portrayal of not only her own struggles and experiences but also those of the other patients. Her account is brilliantly written giving us a clear insight into the "parallel universe" of the insane in the shifting setting of the late sixties.
Date published: 1999-10-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Madness May In Fact Be Sanity This novel was very interesting. Susanna Kaysen describes how she views the world. Her personality and attitude is one that many teenage girls can relate to, although they may not have experienced what Susanna has to the extreme which she has. This novel offers a clear insight as to what living with a mental disorder is like. I anxiously await the movie which will be coming out in the fall starring Winona Ryder as Kaysen who I believe will do a precise job in portraying the character. I recommend this book for all people who are interested in the learning and understanding how the "normal" and chemically altered human mind functions. Susanna explores the extent of which "normality" meets insanity and how easily the two can be misinterpreted.
Date published: 1999-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Girl, Interrupted I read this book about 5 years ago. Once I picked it up I just couldn't put it down until I was done, and yet I tried to postpone the end, because I didn't want it to finish. The way in which Kaysen writes makes you feel as if you are experiencing everything that she is experiencing and gives you a better understanding of the workings of her mind at this time. It was an exceptional book, and definitely one of my favourites. I highly recommend it. Oh, and definitely read it before the movie comes out (filming now), cause I for one know that I prefer to imagine the characters myself before I see what Hollywood does to them.
Date published: 1999-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Girl, Interrupted I read this book about 5 years ago. Once I picked it up I just couldn't put it down until I was done, and yet I tried to postpone the end, because I didn't want it to finish. The way in which Kaysen writes makes you feel as if you are experiencing everything that she is experiencing and gives you a better understanding of the workings of her mind at this time. It was an exceptional book, and definitely one of my favourites. I highly recommend.
Date published: 1999-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 100% delightful susanna kaysen did a highly impressible job of representing the psych ward for adolescent girls. i found it extremley difficult to not think about this book, until i was finished reading, and had recommend it to everyone that i know! it was funny, yet serious, and it was easy to understand, yet it was complicated in its own way. after even reading a few pages, i felt like i accually knew susanna, and was right there with her in the mental hospital! this book is awesome, and i am not hesitant in giving it awesome recommendations to anyone who is interested in this subject.
Date published: 1999-05-11

– More About This Product –

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 192 pages, 7.93 × 5.15 × 0.53 in

Published: April 19, 1994

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0679746048

ISBN - 13: 9780679746041

Read from the Book

Toward a Topography of the Parallel UniversePeople 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 cnp-pled, 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, dur-ing 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? I asked her.A lot of darkness, she said.But most people pass over incrementally, making a series of perforations in the membrane between here and there until an opening exists. And who can resist an opening?   In the parallel universe the laws of physics are suspended. What goes up does not necessarily come down1 a body at rest does not tend to stay at rest1 and not every action can be counted on to provoke an equal and opposite reaction. Time, too, is different. It may run in circles, flow backward, skip about from no
read more read less

From the Publisher

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.

From the Jacket

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele--Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles--as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.
Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching documnet that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.

About the Author

Susanna Kaysen is also the author of the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

From Our Editors

At the age of 18, author Susanna Kaysen checked herself into a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of "borderline personality." After a botched suicide attempt, she felt she no longer had a grip on reality and needed to address the dark jumble in her head. More than 30 years later, she puts her experiences down on paper. Thus, Girl Interrupted recounts Kaysen’s road to recovery and her eventual release from McLean Psychiatric Hospital. With rich characters like Susan, who was thin and yellow and wrapped everything in toilet paper, and Daisy, who had an a passion for laxatives and chicken, this is one close up view of life in the mixed up world of psychiatric hospitals.

Editorial Reviews

"Poignant, honest and triumphantly funny. . . [a] compelling and heartbreaking story." --Susan Cheever, The New York Times Book Review

"Tough-minded . . . darkly comic . . . written with indelible clarity."--Newsweek

"[A]n account of a disturbed girl's unwilling passage into womanhood...and here is the girl, looking into our faces with urgent eyes."--Diane Middlebrook, Washington Post Book World

Bookclub Guide

US

1. The voice that narrates Girl, Interrupted may at first strike readers as cool, intellectual, rational, and controlled, qualities normally associated with sanity. It is a voice full of humor, characterized by an understatement that leaves much to the imagination. How, as we go deeper into the book, does the voice play against what it is describing--or heighten it? What is the overall effect of this voice?

2. At what point, if any, does your perception of the narrator (whom for convenience we call "Susanna") change? Does Susanna's "unreliability" as the narrator suggest something about the nature of madness itself?

3. What does the author accomplish by juxtaposing her actual medical records and case notes with the narrative? How do these documents contribute to your impression of Susanna's psychic state? How would this book be different without them?

4. The narrator reveals little about her life before entering McLean Hospital, and the only biographical information we receive appears rather late in the book. Why do you think Kaysen has chosen to do this?

5. The narrator describes her sojourn in McLean as a journey into a "parallel universe," one of many that "exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it." What resemblances or analogies does Kaysen find between madness and everyday reality? How are the laws of these two universes different? How does one pass from one universe into another?

6. Kaysen gives us two ways of experiencing her parallel universe. One way is to make us understand how madness feels; another is to show how madness is treated (or, more accurately, controlled). What effect does she create by giving us two opposing ways of understanding insanity?

7. Most of the early sections of Girl, Interrupted are devoted to the narrator's observations of her fellow patients. To what extent, if any, do these women seem "crazy" to you? What difference do you see in the book's treatment of "Susanna," the character, and its treatment of the other patients?

8. How does Kaysen describe McLean's "keepers"--its nurses, doctors, and therapists? How do you account for the difference between the hard-bitten full-time staff and the wide-eyed student nurses?

9. In many ways McLean seems like an orderly place whose patients might easily be bored, slightly neurotic college students killing time in the dorm. Madness, real madness, creeps in insidiously, taking both reader and patients by surprise. At what points do we see madness intruding into McLean?

10. At certain points the author suggests that there is something comforting, and even seductive, about insanity. What might make madness comforting to a young girl in the late 1960s--or, for that matter, to anyone at any time?

11. A girl named Daisy kills herself in between hospital stays. Is this foreshadowed by what we already know about her? Why this patient, rather than another? To what extent is the behavior of any of these characters foreseeable?

12. Susanna has no apparent reaction to Daisy's death, but after Torrey, another patient, is released into the custody of her neglectful parents, she has an episode of what her case report calls "depersonalization" [p.105] and mutilates her hands to see if "there are any bones in there" [p.103]. Why? What is she looking for underneath her skin? What is the effect of the graphic physicality of this chapter?

13. The narrator sums up her release from McLean in the following way: "Luckily, I got a marriage proposal and they let me out. In 1968, everybody could understand a marriage proposal." What does this passage say about the choices available to female psychiatric patients--and, by extension, to any woman--at the time this book takes place?

14. The narrator describes 1968 as a time when "people [outside the hospital] were doing the kinds of things we [the patients] had fantasies of doing" [p.92]; a patient's paranoid "delusions" might turn out to be accurate descriptions of the U.S. government's clandestine activities. What other connections does Kaysen draw between her characters' disturbance and the social paroxysms of their time? In what way is this book a document of the 1960s?

15. How does the narrator feel when she meets Georgina and Lisa in the outside world, years after her release? What comparison can we make between the way Susanna sees their lives and the way she sees her own?

16. How does the madness of the 1960s compare to the private and collective neuroses of Freud's Vienna--or to the spectacular symptoms (Multiple Personality Disorder, False Memory Syndrome) of the 1980s and '90s?

17. One reviewer has noted that someone with Susanna's symptoms would today be given "60 days in-patient [treatment] and a psychotropic magic bullet. In 25 years, the cultural metaphor...has changed from incarceration to neglect." Is "neglect" preferable to "incarceration"? How do you think Kaysen might answer such a question?

18. Another critic begins her review of Girl, Interrupted with the observation: "When women are angry at men, they call them heartless. When men are angry at women, they call them crazy" (Susan Cheever, "A Designated Crazy," The New York Times Book Review, June 20, 1993). In what ways is Girl, Interrupted a book about the sexual constructs of madness? What role does the narrator's gender appear to have played in her diagnosis and treatment? How do gender relations inside McLean mirror those in the outside world?

19. What is the significance of the Vermeer painting "Girl Interrupted at Her Music" that appears in the last chapter? How did Susanna feel about the painting the first time she saw it? And how did she feel about it later, after her hospitalization? Why does the gaze of the music student in the painting so haunt her?