The story is a true one about Susanna who went to a psychiatrist after having taken fifty aspirin at one time. The psychiatrist sent her to McLean Hospital which was a psychiatric hospital. The back cover of the book notes that people like James Taylor, Ray Charles and Sylvia Plath spent time there.
The book is about the nearly two years that she spent there, having to adjust to a rather regimented life with a lot of girls who had various problems of their own. Each person she talks about in her book becomes quite real in the reader's mind.
Daisy, for example, is one of them. The description of her and the chicken carcasses in her room, of her use of laxatives, and of her relationship with her father are very strong, leaving a vivid impression in the reader's mind.
She also describes the type of procedures in the hospital, the various checks that are run to see if people are in their room, the procedure for getting their medications and the various levels of privileges that the girls were given.
Also, the type of language she uses in spots is filled with incredible imagery and is also poetic at the same time. For example, she writes about become a vegetarian during the six months after her suicide attempt which ended when she passed out at a meat counter in a store.
"The meat was bruised, bleeding, and imprisoned in a tight wrapping. And, though I had a six-month respite from thinking about it, so was I."
Some of the events she describes that happened to her are also rather frightening, especially the time she was not convinced that she had any bones so she bit into her hand and tried to pry skin loose to get to the bones. Fortunately one of the other patients saw what was going on and went to get help, the result being that she was given Thorazine, a very strong tranquilizing drug, and taken to her room.
She also discusses her sessions with the therapists, and the book includes some of the actual reports that were made on her by the doctors.
This is not a light-hearted book. It's the story of a girl who nearly killed herself and how she had to struggle back to the point where she could get from one day to the next with at least some quality of life present. It's a personal, well-told story that will hold your interest all the way through.
The book was made into a movie with Wynona Rider playing the part of Susanna Kaysen. It's a well-done movie but does differ in places from the material in the book. The DVD has a director's commentary added, deleted scenes with commentary, theatrical trailers, talent files, production notes, an "isolated music score" and the HBO First Look: The Making of Girl, Interrupted.
Girl, Interrupted Screenplay
The first part of the book is an interview with the film's director. The actual screenplay follows that, and then there is a list of credits. There are four pages of black-and-white photographs, and then there are twelve pages of storyboards, drawings which are used to plan the actual shooting of the various scenes. These kind of books are very interesting, in my opinion, and are working getting and reading.