Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (review)

The Book
I read this memoir in one sitting. Not because it is so short, which it is, but because it was so good. The book is about Susanna's stay at McClean Hospital where she was diagnosed as having borderline personality disorder. This book is fascinating not only because you get a real glimpse of what it would be like to be in a medium security mental hospital, but because of Susanna's struggle about what it means to be sane or crazy, and which side of the border she belongs on, pun intended.

This was not the first time I read this. The first time, I had very little understanding about mental illness and disorders. I was interested more in the story and the character's antics than I was in understanding their psyche and what makes one crazy, not-so crazy, or completely sane. This time around I was completely drawn into both the backstory and future of each character. The reason being because I am now reading this after suffering a major depression. A person with no experience with mental illness will not read it the same as someone with experience.

The Movie
The movie seems to be less about Susanna herself and more about the characters that she encounters at McLean Hospital. The first time around, I liked the movie better because I was more interesting in an exciting story and found the characters' fighting and antics entertaining.

This time around, I realize how much better the book is as case studies of the characters. The book did a great job of telling us about the other patients. I think the movie did a much better job of showing the supporting characters' illnesses and personalities. It's not that Susanna is a bad writer. It's just that Susanna's memoir is, as it should be, mostly about herself. In the book, Susanna tells us that Lisa is sociopath but the movie truly shows it.

The memoir does not have much of a plot, so naturally the movie contains many added scenes and story lines that the book does not. Both are equally entertaining and compliment each other so well that I can't recommend one over the other.

My rating for both the movie and book Photobucket The only reason I don't give it a fifth star is that I don't feel there is anything life altering about this book.