Review: Girl, Interrupted | Susanna Kaysen

This Review is spoiler free.

“I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent.”

Published: 1993, by Virago.
Pages: 168
Format: Paperback
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Health, Mental Health
Contains: Borderline Personality Disorder, Mental Illness, Psychiatric Hospitals, Sexual Content, Strong Language, Self Injury, Suicide, Death.

‘Girl, Interrupted’ follows eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen, who was put into a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression in 1967. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in the psychiatric hospital renowned for its famous clientele – Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, and Ray Charles.

I first read this book whilst studying for my Bachelors, to which I now have no memory of ever reading it. So, I thought it would be fitting to return to it for my Masters. However, nowadays, this book has a whole new meaning to me.

As someone who has spent a lengthy amount of time in a psychiatric hospital, I related to a lot of this memoir. The five minute checks, the lack of human dignity and the aftermath of being discharged. This book took me by the hand and told me that it was okay, that there was another person out there who could feel what I felt during that long year, and for that I thank Susanna Kaysen for sharing her experiences with me.

The writing style was just what I needed to get me out of my reading slump, consisting of short chapters dotted across a raw and heart wrenching timeline of her life spent inside the hospital. The matter-of-fact narrative made it so real, and is something that I feel will be shared with others who have been through a similar experience.

Overall, I loved this novel. It was gut-wrenching, raw, and honest, and I cannot thank the author enough for the comfort it gave me.


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