Jessica's Reviews > Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
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Aug 07, 2011

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Read in August, 2011

I first read this when I was twenty years old. I remember blowing through it one summer afternoon lying on my dorm room bed and thinking it was an amazing book. On second read, ten years later, I'm not so sure. The book certainly has brilliant moments: Kaysen's description of the velocity/viscosity paradox of her illness has got to be one of the greatest descriptions of a mental state ever written. Same goes for the analogy of mental illness to the stationary/moving train illusion. But on this second read, I found the book's sparseness bizarre. A memoir about mental illness which includes not one scene from her childhood? Her home life? Her parents' lives? The book pivots on the question of whether Kaysen was actually ill or whether she was a victim of hyper-vigilant, sexist doctors trying to save her from the chaos of the 1960s. She poses the question, roots around for some answers, but the digging seems superficial. This is no doubt related to the book's shortness - I realized that this book is probably less than 75 double spaced pages of a Microsoft Word document. This seems way too little time to get to the bottom of something so complex as mental illness.

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