|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 168 pages
Start Date: Sometime in 2009
Finished Date: Sometime in 2009
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: Loved the movie and wanted to compare.
Summary: A retrospective memoir on Kaysen’s stay in a mental hospital during the 1960s after a suicide attempt leads her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.
By its synopsis, the book comes across like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets The Bell Jar, but to me, it doesn't hold a candle to either.
The main problem I had with the book was its scattered format. It seemed to have little or no structure, which made it hard to follow. The most interesting parts were rather limited character profiles of patients & staff she interacts with: Lisa, a diagnosed sociopathic & frequent escapee of the institution; Polly, diagnosed schizophrenic, depressive who is badly scarred from setting herself on fire; Georgina, diagnosed schizophrenic, compulsive liar & Suzanna’s roommate; Daisy, a hostile, recovering anorexic, diagnosed OCD, who suggests she is a victim of incest; Valerie, the head day nurse, down-to-earth & non-judgmental as opposed to the night nurse; Melvin, Suzanna’s therapist/analyst who seems to need treatment himself; and Dr. Wick, a sharp psychiatrist who later treats Suzanna.
The 1999 movie starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie was much more accessible, fleshing out character details that appear as mere footnotes in the book, and structuring Suzanna's experiences into a plot, rather than in nonsensical spurts that stilt the progression of the story. I would highly recommend you skip the book & just see the movie to get the big picture.
Rank: (D)- Finished but did not like