autobiography · nonfiction

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

Author: Susanna Kaysen

Pages [paperback]: 168

Available now!

Memorable Quote: “What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?”


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.


It’s always been hard for me to judge nonfiction books such as this one. They’re not my typical type of story, but one here and there keeps things from getting especially boring. They’re just hard for me to get into. I really liked the style this was written in-free, go with the flow. No pressures. Just looking to see what happens on the ride. But it wasn’t specially intriguing, or gripping, edge-of-your-seat material. It was just . . . okay. One of those books you read and maybe re-read, maybe forget about.

Susanna searches to find her place in society as well as in her new home, a psychiatric hospital. As she tries to find out what led her to this and what could have changed in her life, the reader is shown a glimpse of life as a patient through her eyes.

Girl, Interrupted is a quick, enjoyable read, good for those who have a fondness for memoirs, biographies, or are interesting in learning about life at a psychiatric hospital. I give it 3/5 stars.


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