Girl, Interrupted

Title:   Girl, Interrupted

Author:  Susanna Kaysen

Publisher: Vintage Paperback, 200o (1994)

ISBN: 9780679746041

 About the author:  from

Susanna Kaysen (born November 11, 1948) is an American author, best known for her memoir Girl, Interrupted.

Kaysen was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the daughter of economist Carl Kaysen, a professor at MIT and former advisor to President John F. Kennedy, and Annette Neutra Kaysen.

Kaysen attended high school at the Commonwealth School in Boston, and the Cambridge School of Weston before being sent to McLean Hospital in 1967 to undergo psychiatric treatment for depression. It was there she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She was released after 18 months. She later drew on this experience for her 1993 memoir Girl, Interrupted, which was adapted into a film in 1999; she was portrayed by Winona Ryder.

Kaysen has one sister and is divorced. She lived for a time in the Faroe Islands, upon which experience her novel Far Afield is based.

 Plot: Susanna Kaysen writes about her experiences in McClean hospital in 1967 for the treatment of depression. She stays there for two years.

Critical Evaluation:  Kaysen writes a candid and moving portrait of being institutionalized. Although she entered the hospital willingly for a respite, but ends up staying for two years. She writes in a nonlinear fashion, jumping between incidents that led to her institutionalization. Kaysen touches on how we as a society view mental illness, and how much of it is within the real of normal behavior.

Reader’s Annotation: She went in to McLean Hospital for a rest. She didn’t leave for two years.

Genre: biography

Curriculum Ties: biography, mental illness

Booktalking Ideas: Give a brief overview of mental illness and talk about some myths and truths about the condition.

Reading Level/Interest Age: 16+

Challenge Issues: violence, suicide

Challenge Resources 

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Why did you pick this for your collection?  

  • ALA Notable Books – Nonfiction: 1994