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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  28,087 ratings  ·  961 reviews
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is the story of a sixteen-year-old who retreats from reality into the bondage of a lushly imagined but threatening kingdom, and her slow and painful journey back to sanity.

Chronicles the three-year battle of a mentally ill, but perceptive, teenage girl against a world of her own creation, emphasizing her relationship with the doctor who g
Paperback, 288 pages
Published November 7th 1989 by Signet (first published 1964)
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Diana Filip A late answer in case you haven't read it already.
It was one of my first books to read and I was very impressed by the story. I think your mum will l…more
A late answer in case you haven't read it already.
It was one of my first books to read and I was very impressed by the story. I think your mum will like it too.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  28,087 ratings  ·  961 reviews

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Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"'Oh, do come in, dear Doctor. You are just in time for the patient's soothing tea and the end of the world.'" p. 17.

"'The HIDDEN strength is too deep a secret. But in the is our only ally.'" Dr. Fried, page 19.

"'I'm a hundred square yards sane.' If there were such things as man-hours and light-years, surely there was foot-sanity." p. 21.

"'Then you're not going to be indifferent...' ... 'You're damn right I'm not!'" Deborah and Dr. Fried, p. 45.

"'We will work hard, together, and we will
Lisa Vegan
May 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in mental illness and adolescents, those who enjoy a good novel
I first read this in 1966 when I was 13 and in the 8th grade and it became my favorite book and remained my favorite book throughout high school. I reread it many times, although it's been years since my last reading.

This is a story of a young woman ages 16-19 who is suffering from severe mental illness (in the book she is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia) in a mental hospital.

My understanding is that this book is based on a true story and the hospital was Chestnut Lodge and the psychiatr
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, favorites
To get below the surface of this book, one must invest himself/herself. This I was willing to do. As a fellow sufferer of mental illness, I long for memoirs of those who've gone through the same as me. It's easy to read a book without really getting it, and that's why the people in other reviews have given this book below five stars. They're quick to say it's boring, afraid of the cause the book gives for deep thinking, which they probably haven't been able to grasp. They're the ones who've neve ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Lee by: Lisa Vegan
This was a powerful and painful reading experience and not something I would have naturally gravitated to on my own. I chose to read this upon the recommendation of a friend and I'm very glad I did. I have no idea what the author's history is but she did a marvelous job at getting inside the head of a very disturbed girl who has been committed to a mental hospital. Reading this story reinforced my committment to never lie to my child. It brought back memories of my own teenage years and the lies ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: recent
As someone who feels like they deal with mental illness on a daily basis, it was hard for me to enter the mind of someone with schizophrenia. I just couldn’t deal with the concept. It was well written but just not for me at this time.
When we meet Deborah, she’s on her way to a mental hospital. She’s two years short of finishing high school, and she’s recently been hospitalized for slitting her wrists. Her mother, at least, is aware that there’s something not quite right about Deborah, but she can’t really put her finger on what it is. A famous therapist agrees to work with Deborah to help her sort out her problems. Only pages into this novel, readers glimpse Deborah’s uniquely frightening psychological landscape – the land o ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
What a beautifully written semi-autobiographical story of the struggle of a young girl attempting to refocus her energies on the real world, making the transition from being mentally ill and being mentally well, as well as the stigma placed on those who have psychiatric diagnoses. As someone with experience both as a mental health professional and a patient, I can see both perspectives. It is never easy to go from the safety of the hospital environment back into the world, where one must live a ...more
Victoria Hill
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A moving, thought-provoking and inspiring account of a young girl's struggle with schizophrenia.

Following a suicide attempt, Debra, aged just 16, is committed to a mental hospital. Over the next three years she works with her psychiatrist to understand her illness and explores the possibility of mental health. Her precarious progress is punctuated by periods where she falls back into the terror of her illness.

I first read this book as a healthy twenty year old with high hopes for my future, an
Jun 03, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a brilliant book and perhaps deserves more than three stars, but there are certainly problems, most having to do with our better understanding of schizophrenia in more recent times. As a historical document, the book powerfully represents a world in which large industrial-size mental hospitals were considered advanced, state-of-the-art facilities. Seclusion rooms and cold packs (trapping a patient in ice-cold sheets) were also considered constructive treatments, as was intensive psychoan ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"[I like the] fine old word asylum that suggests a haven, a refuge, a place where hospitality and restfulness prevail." -George A Zeller MD, of Peoria State Hospital

Joanne Greenberg was hospitalized for schizophrenia from 1948 to 1951. She was lucky. This was before the introduction of the pharmaceuticals that are the sum total of psychiatry today. It was after the craze for lobotomies and shock treatments (can you believe they gave the Nobel Prize to the guy who invented lobotomies?) She was lu
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book for an undergrad class assignment and I loved it. This book represents the real thoughts of a person diagnosed with Schizophrenia. What I've read is that the author of this book is actually the protagonist of the story. She was a 16 year old dianosed with this degenerative illness that affects the person as well as others around them. She was dianosed when the mere mention of this illness would cause confusion and guilt to parents who thought that somehow they were at fault for ...more
Nandakishore Varma
I read this book in my early twenties and don't remember much about it than its haunting descriptions of the fantasy world of the schizophrenic protagonist. It also resulted in my writing a novelette in Malayalam about a young, gifted woman in an unsatisfying marriage to a dull man, slowly going mad and into her fantasy world. (I lost the manuscript, which was just as well, because the story was totally derivative and cringe-worthy.)

Maybe if I read it again, my star rating would go up. In those
Ova - Excuse My Reading
This was an incredibly difficult read. Beautifully written story of struggles of mental illness, I read this book in my early 20s and I am glad I did as it helped me develop an awareness of these type of issues. This is an upsetting book, although I am glad I read it.
May 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: crap
This is such a stupid book. I read it in high school and it was one of those books that was so bad I couldn't pry myself from it.

It's partly because I'd seen so much mental illness in my own family that gave me such a significant desire to see something somehow more substantial but this effort just feels entirely shallow to me. The therapist was just bad. I mean Bad. BAD. Horrible. What an unhelpful, cold BITCH. I mean, she is portrayed rather heroically but it's rare that I want to reach throu
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for a Developmental Psychopathology class and ended up really enjoying it. The purpose of the assignment was to examine the state of the science on schizophrenia both at the time of publication (1964) and today, and the ways in which the public's views of schizophrenia may have been shaped through reading this novel.

Today as in the 1960s, mental illness carries a highly negative social stigma. Greenberg presents a humanized view of mental illness with a focus on the painful experien
Megan Fermo
First off, I'll ask you now, judging by the title what did YOU expect?

I wasn't expecting any action. No, not in the slightest. but that title...I don't know why but first time I read it ('twas during my mental illness literature phase)I was like, Wow, I'm definitely giving that a go.

I Never Promised You a Rose's not a special title but there's a little something magnetic about it.

Here's the possible tale that ran through my mind. The protagonist (let's call her Anna), who is schizo
I was surprised by this book. I knew that it was about a young girl with mental illness, but I didn't expect it to feel so real or myself to feel so connected to Deborah. I somehow forgot that the story was being told about Deborah rather than by her. Every time I remembered, it was jarring in a way. That's the skill of Greenberg because the reader inhabits Deborah's thoughts then is forced out of them when the narrative switches to Dr. Fried's point of view or to Jacob and Esther's point of vie ...more
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book (as well as Ayn Rand's book Anthem) when I was 14 years old and my brother was dying. I will never forget what a profound effect this book had on me. I needed to escape from reality and there was truly no better escape than to the world of a schizophrenic teenager who was struggling to get well. Rereading it as an adult, I was struck by several things. First, I had to laugh at myself because when I found out the main character (the teen/young adult with schizophrenia) went ...more
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this too long ago to really review it properly.

I do remember it being a favorite book when I was young and troubled.
Sonia Gomes
Jan 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone, the grit and determination are amazing
What tips us over the edge? Who knows what experiences each one of us hides in our hearts or the scars of our mind.
What makes us shut the world that has been so terrible to us? What makes us say I just cannot go on; I need to shut myself in a protective cocoon.
The reasons are varied and many, they could be social or cultural. But one thing for sure, we want to get out of this life, we could commit suicide and many do that.
The rest of us, just tune off this World, this life, and wrap ourselves i
The Goon
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," is a beautiful book based on a true story. Knowing that this is a retelling of the authors own experience as a sufferer of mental illness lends credibility to all aspects of the tale.
Contrary to the current belief that most metal illnesses are life long diseases that forever need managing, it's amazing to discover that there are people who have recovered from schizophrenia--the most frightening mental illness of all. Not only that, but the details provided
Samantha C
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing that is so wrong about being mentally ill is the terrible price you have to pay for survival. - p. 63

The people on the edge of Hell were most afraid of the devil; for those already in hell the devil was only another and no one in particular. - p. 72

There are other deaths than death -- worse ones. - p. 73

The boredom of insanity was a great desert, so great that anyone's violence or agony seemed an oasis, and the brief simple moments of companionship seemed like a rain in the desert that
Oct 06, 2007 added it
Shelves: advisory2007-08
There were so many big words in this book, but i got through it and i was satisfied with the ending. It's about the three years a teenage girl, Deborah, spends at an asylum. Throughout the book, she constantly retreats to an imaginary world that she created to block out what she couldn't accept in the real world. Her time at the asylum wasn't at all bad because she made new friends and those were the only true friends she ever had. I think the friendship she built at the time gave her a reason t ...more
Hannah Senninger
Oct 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-this-year
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden throws the reader head first into the dark, confusing, and maddening world of schizophrenia. The author wrote it partially autobiographically and I want to recognize how valuable that is- to get the perspective from someone who has actually experienced it. However, this book was just plain boring. I thought it had a lot of potential, I kept assuming it would get interesting, but it never did. Even the things that should be interesting weren't interesting! I'm s ...more
Mrs Lecter
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
i first read this when i was a teenager and dealing with my own mental illness. i remember being able to relate to a lot and finding a great deal of comfort in it.
reading it again years later has been an amazing experience. it is still a fantastic book.
i got my edition (with a different cover) years ago for 30p! what a bargain 💜
An interesting book, and quite good. However it's definitely a product of its time. I dislike the implications that mental illness can be caused by an individual or hir parents, and that it is only a matter of willpower to overcome it.
Marythios (AkaSusanne )
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Joanne Greenberg was hospitalized for schizophrenia from 1948 to 1951. This story was told with the character Debra which follows the life of Greenberg. This is the time period before the introduction of the pharmaceuticals which is what is used for psychiatry today. It was after the craze for lobotomies and shock treatments. She was lucky to be treated by a psychiatrist who was compassionate and perceptive, and firmly believed that schizophrenia is curable, despite conventional wisdom.

An asylum
Romina Claudia
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although u cannot treat schizophrenia with psychotherapy only, this book does give u an insight into the psychotic world of a patient, valuable for practitioners as for people that want to understand the psychiatric patients. An easy read and pleasant book.
Paul Ataua
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Any book that doesn’t see psychosis as a chemical imbalance or an incomprehensible madness that can only be kept under control with high doses of spirit destroying drugs is to be supported. ‘Rose Garden’, dealing with the illness, hospitalization, and ‘cure’ of a young girl seen through the eyes of the patient herself, is one such book. For that reason I support it. I read it in my teens and it had a profound effect on me. This time I was less enthusiastic. I have misgivings, both about the infe ...more
Oct 16, 2009 rated it liked it
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“I once had a patient who used to practice the most horrible tortures on himself, and when I asked him why he did such things, he said, 'Why, before the world does them.' I asked him then, 'Why not wait and see what the world will do?' and he said, 'Don't you see? It always come at last, but this way at least I am master of my own destruction.” 57 likes
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