A Different Take On Mainstream

I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN: A BOOK REVIEW

*this book is not a light read.

       You should just know– if my word vomit makes especially no sense today, it’s because I stayed up really late watching Kdramas last night, and now I feel slightly drunk. As if I’ve forgotten why I exist.  Also, I keep shouting things in Korean–and I don’t even speak Korean. Well– you have been warned. Onward.

       I don’t even know where to start with this book. The writing is so provocative in it’s content, the message so raw and painful– reading this book is a journey you have to commit to, because this is not a story you take lightly– this is a book that echoes in your ear and forces you to think about it long after the last page has been read. Let us start it like this:

Author: Joanne Greenberg
Number of Pages: 318
Published: 1964
Sentence from the Novel: Into the vacuum of the Midworld where she stood between Yr and Now, the Collect was beginning to come to life.

       I Never Promised You a Rose Garden delves into the mind of 16 year old Deborah Blau, a girl diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In a conscious, yet somewhat unconscious cry for help, Deborah begins her road to recovery by slitting open her wrist, thus forcing her parents to realize that the only place that can help her now is the state mental asylum. Through this novel, we travel through three years in Deborah’s mind, watching her view the world through her fantastical, manipulative mask. Her relationships with her Psychologist, Dr. Fried, and with her fellow patients, are also viewed through Deborah’s distorted world, so that the reader is brought deep into the process of Deborah’s mind, sometimes only seeing her created world of Yr, and other times, seeing the Now, and watching Deborah struggle to hold on to it. On the most surfaced of levels, this story tells the tale of a sixteen year old girl fighting alongside her psychologist to reach reality. But seen deeper– through Deborah’s eyes– the story transforms into a crazy coming of age novel– where the heroine fights to reach adulthood amidst her life between two worlds: the physical one around her that she desperately wishes to escape from, and the deceiving one in her mind, which ultimately traps her in her world of Other.
PS– the story has a happy ending.

My Thoughts:
       Published as a semi- autobiographical novel based off of Joanne Greenberg’s own life experiences, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden does just that– it presents utter reality to the reader stripped of any frills, or glossed over moments. I will say this right now– this book is not for everyone. It is extremely deep and emotionally draining at times. One has to read as Deborah is at times forced into a straightjacket, or other psychological techniques of the ’60’s–and while we may know what is happening to Deborah, depending on which world Deborah is a part of, she may not often realize what is happening to her; instead writing the episode into her world of Yr, where somehow, it makes sense. However, the reason why I loved this book so much, is that it questions the definition of insanity. We don’t often get an inside glance into the world of mental asylums, nor do we ever get to witness the intimate relationship between a patient and her doctor, or a patient and her relationships with other patients. When we hear terms such as schizophrenia, or depressive psychosis, most of us automatically think “crazy”. However, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden breaks down the definition of crazy, invites us into it, allows us to be a part of it for a few hours–so that when we emerge, it is with the realization that at the source of everything is a beating heart.

Favorite Scenes:
— When Deborah and her in-patient friend Carla escape from the asylum on a lark.
— when Deborah meets fellow patient Miss Coral Allen, who then teaches Deborah Latin and Greek
— When Miss Coral gets into mental fits of rage (such comic relief).
— Deborah’s dealings with the made up characters of Yr.

Well, that is all–
If you have any book recommendations for me that I can review, please leave them down in the comments below!

What is the heaviest book you have both read and enjoyed?
Leave a comment below! 
love,
Cynical Duchess