OT: 2 off-topic requests for book ideas

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Sep 21 12:21:39 EDT 2004

I vaguely suggested

>> Is the 1964 classic case of self-injury to cope with (or as a result of) a
>> mental crisis, *I Never Promised You A Rose Garden* by Hannah Green, within
>> the YA scope (on account of being about a 16-year-old)?  That's assuming
>> it's still possible to get hold of it; last time I know it was in print was
>> in 1978 when I think they made a film of it.

and the Knowledge Pika replied

>I wouldn't recommend it, myself; I read it at 16, and because it ends
>with the traditional mid 20th century belief that those with mental
>illness will never have normal love relationships, as well as other mid
>20th century beliefs about mental illness, it could be very damaging...

She has survived, she has come through, she has begun to understand what
was going on, and she isn't going to give up, even though the end isn't a
clear-cut upbeat.

I didn't read it as "she will never" at all, any part of it.  It was a "she
hasn't *yet*", mostly, for me.  Let's face it, "normal love relationships"
hasn't happened (if by that you mean boy-and-girl) mostly because she
hasn't actually known anyone male apart from the doctors and nurses, for
years, and they obviously aren't about to have a relationship with a
patient -- ethics and all that.  But she has allowed herself to admit that
she loves her parents, and her sister; isn't that a start?  When she gets
whatever the qualification is, near the end, that means she could go to
college, she rings her parents to share the news, and is glad to give them
that achievement; doesn't that count for something?  The way I read it,
much of the problem was now not *her*, but that the townspeople knew that
she lived in the Scary Place For Nutters, and so rejected her; if she moved
somewhere where she didn't have that stigma round her neck, she might well
end up managing very well and still being herself -- which was what the
object of the whole exercise was, wasn't it, that she should be herself?

I read it at fifteen, and I think I'm more glad than sorry I did.  I used
sometimes to come to at midday in my boarding school, having simply stayed
inside the dream I had chosen for myself for the night before (I always
could choose where I would go in my sleep) and not bothered to wake up, but
I always seemed to have been doing the right classes and making the right
noises whilst I was somewhere else, and made my bed and had breakfast and
so on.  That book quite possibly saved me an awful lot of grief a bit later
on, because it showed me some of the risks that I might be running if I got
too good at what I had taught myself how to do as an escape from the

So it could be whatever the opposite of very damaging is, as well.

(Memo to self, find out who I lent my copy to and see if they still have
it, maybe it's time for me to re-read it and see how it now stacks up.)


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