January 12, 2010

Review: Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted
by Susanna Kaysen

I grew up with Winona Ryder. "Lucas", "Heathers", "Mermaids", "How to Make an American Quilt", etc. She's good at angst/under confident. Whenever she is taken out of that role, as in "Edward Scissorhands" or "Autumn in New York", she is not convincing. I have always felt that "Girl, Interrupted" was a movie hand picked just for her. It was her last, great movie. (Too bad. I'd love to see her shine again.)

I didn't know it was a book. Did you know it was a book? I mean, it makes sense but it never occurred to me. So I swooped it up when I saw it at the local Friends of the Library Book Store. It was not what I was expecting.

If you've seen the movie, and I'm venturing to guess that most of you have, it is the chronicle of the 2 years that Susanna Kaysen spent in a medium security mental facility. We meet the other "crazies" on her ward while she tries to figure out why she is there and what to do with her life. Angelina Jolie plays the sociopath Lisa convincingly. Whoopi Goldberg is the compassionate and fearless Nurse Valerie. The late Brittany Murphy makes an appearance as the disturbed Daisy.

But the book is totally different. I don't mean that it's essence was changed. I mean the book is not written as a story of two years in chronological order. It is chunks of episodes, some out of order, told as the author feels the need to share them. Daisy's story, or what little is known of it, is told in a 3 page chapter. It's not a catalytic moment for the author as it is in the movie.

The differences remind me heavily of the differences in the book and movie versions of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The books share glimpses of life at it's most interesting; the movie weaves an elaborate story with the bare facts.

I enjoyed both the movie and the book. Occasionally the book gets hard to decipher but that is something one should expect when it is written by someone with a personality disorder. Most of it is easy and interesting reading.

Another tally mark for the 2010 Challenge Charity book as well as for the Read the Book, See the Movie Challenge.


Zibilee said...

It's been such a long time since I've seen this movie, but I remember loving it. I reading the book so many years later coupled with the fact that it is so different than the movie would be right up my alley. I am going to see if I can find a used copy and read this for the Women Unbound challenge. Thanks so much for posting this review, I have had a hard time picking books for this challenge, and I need all the help I can get! Glad you liked the book as well!

Linda said...

I've never seen the movie, but the book is on my list for the Fill In The Gaps Challenge. Looking forward to reading it now.

Bookfool said...

I've never seen the movie, but I read the book a long, long time ago -- maybe 10 years? Hard to say, anymore. I still remember it pretty well and I keep thinking someday I ought to see the movie.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't seen the movie or read the book, but they both sound good to me.

Jenny said...

I thought the book was cool, and the movie a bit too sad for me - though I agree, Winona Ryder was very good. (And I miss Brittany Murphy.) I particularly loved the chapter where Susanna presents the evidence about how long the doctor talked to her before sending her to the mental institution. She captures so perfectly that thing of nobody believing you when you're crazy.

Jeane said...

I read the book years before it turned out as a movie, and still have a copy on my shelves. Tried watching the film, but the beginning was just too slow for me. I do want to attempt watching it again someday, I think I just wasn't in the right mood for it. Winona Ryder is one of my favorite actresses.

soleil said...

i remember watching this movie when it came out in theatres and i loved it. i read the book three years and i didn't like it so much. i didn't find the author's voice to be very compelling, i suppose. this is one of those rare instances for me where i actually thought the movie was better than the book.

Sandra said...

I enjoyed the film and didn't know it was a book first either.No matter how hard they try, the experience of reading a book and watching a film are always going to be very different. Glad you enjoyed them.


I read this book a long time ago, and I really enjoyed it. But as soon as I finished I walked out and told my mom I thought I had Borderline Personality Disorder. And then she read it and she told me she thought she had Borderline Personality Disorder too!

We don't.