Thursday, April 5, 2007

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs: Book Review

I realize that I might be behind the times with this post, since Running With Scissors is "Now A Major Motion Picture", but it was definitely worth the wait for me. I saw the movie the weekend it opened, in San Francisco last October, and I felt very sophisticated, seeing a movie like that on opening weekend. (I'm still just the same boring mommy, but for 2 hours, I felt very "cutting-edge.") At first, I didn't want to read the book, because I have seen the movie, but I'm glad I read it, because it is infinitely better than the movie was.

This book is a memoir written by a man who was raised by a psychotic mother, and given away to his only-slightly-less mentally ill psychiatrist. He basically raised himself in the context of a group of crazy people. I enjoyed the fact that I could relate to a lot of the pop-culture references, such as the author pining for a Tony Orlando and Dawn album for Christmas, and the fact that his mom smoked "More" cigarettes. My own mother smoked those, and his descriptions of her facial expressions while talking with a cigarette in her mouth brought back many, um, fond memories.

It was hilariously funny at times, and I laughed out loud. At other times it made me want to cry. The movie had the exact same effect on me, but the desire to cry for the boy came much earlier in the book. From my point of view as a parent, it makes me sad that no one protected him more when he was a child. The person who he described as his first love in the book was actually a big old pedophile. And no one helped him. It made me sad for him.

This book is not light reading, but the chapters are such that you could put it down and pick it up in a few days and not lose track of the plot. (A good book for when your kids are home for Spring Break, as mine are this week, and won't stop interrupting you.) I would not recommend leaving it on your coffee table if your kids can read, unless you don't mind them learning some new words and interesting facts about sex. But all that said, I really liked it.

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