Thursday, 17 December 2015

Girl, Interrupted // Review

When I found out we'd be studying Girl, Interrupted at uni, I was excited - I'd never read it before, nor had I seen the film despite seeing just about every still of it that exists on Tumblr. I was wary about reading it, due to the sensitive nature of some of the themes, but still I delved in...

The book details Susanna Kaysen's stay at McLean, an psychiatric institute in Belmont. It's a real place, and has been home to some pretty prolific people over the years - Sylvia Plath, notably, and Ray Charles. Reading the novel, I found myself almost looking for the striking resemblance between Girl, Interrupted and Plath's The Bell Jar; I preferred Girl, Interrupted, as blasphemous as that may be.

I was immediately drawn to Susanna (author AND protagonist), and found myself able to identify with her from the get go. Her style of writing is satirical, delicate, intelligent and poetic all at once; she describes characters as if they're your life-long friends, and situations as if you've been in them yourself several times over. Reading the novel, you're immersed in life at McLean - conversations in phone booths, light bulbs crunching on the floor, tunnels that snake their way under the hospital.

The other characters are a joy, too - from all walks of life, suffering in so many different ways, exhibiting all kinds of behaviour both rational and so totally not. The book is a breath of fresh air, I believe, because it challenges everything you've ever thought about institutions and throws you in a million different directions.

Girl, Interrupted is an incredible example of the view of mental illness in the late 60s. It presents parallel worlds, the staggering separation of "us" and "them", the fine line between sanity and insanity. It is beautifully written, humorous and heartbreaking in equal measures. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone.

I'm classing this as a memoir for my 2015 Book Review Challenge, which I've failed miserably at and will be continuing in 2016. Click here to check that oooot.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like something I would love to read! :) By the way, I love your Christmas themed layout! xx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x