The prose style in the memoir, Girl, Interrupted, is clean, concise, and unembellished. The spare writing leaves no room for self-pity, yet still tells a vivid story of mental unraveling and convalescence concurrently. Kaysen meets a cast of vulnerable characters during her nearly year-long commitment in a psychiatric hospital. They form unlikely friendships, and we get to know all of their various neuroses in a stifling environment that is at once a cage and a path to self-discovery and health.
I was reminded of my own two commitments to psychiatric hospitals, how strange and austere the world became in those weeks, how time became irrelevant with the breakfast, lunch and dinner announcements, medication time, nightly bed checks, and the ironic “fresh air breaks,” on the back steps of the ward where I and my own unlikely cast of characters smoked cigarettes and commiserated about our unique predicaments.
I was reminded in reading Girl, Interrupted that it is possible, even in the midst of mental turmoil, to experience epiphanies of self-understanding.