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36
4.4 out of 5 stars
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 1999
Rarely does there come a book that transcends genre, time, and cultural barriers speaking directly to the human heart. This is one of those rare books. Rather than showing the mysterious and foreign world of insanity I had expected, it reveals that the mentally ill struggle with the same needs and battles as we all do: The need for love and acceptance, the power of undiluted truth, and of undeserved kindness and forgiveness. Comparable to victor Hugo's Les Misérables this book is not merely about a certain minority group, but about major life issues and struggles that touch us at the core of who we are, no matter what our background.
Insanity is a form of defense, a way of not seeing. Rather than offering an "alternate reality", it creates a wall that keeps out hurt, but also keeps out the love that we all need. I couldn't help but see the similarity between the hiding from life of the insane, and the hiding from life of the polite, trivial, distraction-obsessed, non-introspective world of the "normal". To live in reality is a fight for us both. It is tempting to take the easy way out for both groups, and swallowing the lies of an easy struggle-free existence is tempting, but as the main character Deborah Blau says, "To be alive is to fight". This book made me glad to be alive. Read it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 November 2013
I found it hard to get into the book and to finish it (but I did).

Nevertheless, "I never promised you a rose garden" is a beautifully and evocatively written account of a young girl's stay in the asylum, and her struggle to overcome her demons, her mental illness (I specifically referred to "demons" as the world she imagines, the demonic universe of Yr, is haunting and disturbing and full of demons), and find a place within people, and in this world.

The book is a semi-autobiography of Joanne Greenberg, the author, and for many years was a bestseller in the States, and I can see why. Whilst the account of the mental illness might not be medically accurate, the language, the description, the narrative are all brilliant AND, what I loved, the story is full of sarcasm and self-humour, which makes the main heroine, Deborah, extremely likable. Just for the humour the book deserves another star. The structure of Deborah's alternate universe is mesmerising and absorbing, and I actually mentioned the book to the avid fantasy reader, because, in my opinion, one can easily enjoy the book as sci-fi, rather than a medical account.

I do not regret reading "I never promised you a rose garden", but I will be very careful in recommending this book. It's not for everybody. It's not for the majority.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 1999
Rarely does there come a book that transcends genre, time, and cultural barriers speaking directly to the human heart. This is one of those rare books. Rather than showing the mysterious and foreign world of insanity I had expected, it reveals that the mentally ill struggle with the same needs and battles as we all do: The need for love and acceptance, the power of undiluted truth, and of undeserved kindness and forgiveness. Comparable to victor Hugo's Les Misérables this book is not merely about a certain minority group, but about major life issues and struggles that touch us at the core of who we are, no matter what our background.
Insanity is a form of defense, a way of not seeing. Rather than offering an "alternate reality", it creates a wall that keeps out hurt, but also keeps out the love that we all need. I couldn't help but see the similarity between the hiding from life of the insane, and the hiding from life of the polite, trivial, distraction-obsessed, non-introspective world of the "normal". To live in reality is a fight for us both. It is tempting to take the easy way out for both groups, and swallowing the lies of an easy struggle-free existence is tempting, but as the main character Deborah Blau says, "To be alive is to fight". This book made me glad to be alive. Read it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2013
It took me quite a while to tackle this book - the first memoir of schizophrenia that I have tried. It took a little getting used to, as it absorbs you straight into the world of the mentally unstable, hallucinations and all very well defined, but it was a masterpiece and I thoroughly enjoyed it, whilst learning a little about my own Mother's possible symptoms at the same time. It follows the other side of her story, through her parents - their thoughts, feelings and actions on their daughter's hospitalisation and diagnosis, whilst the main feature is her experiences of her three year hospitalisation, showing key events that trigger an episode, description of the episode, and the treatment that was administered by the doctors and nurses and her psychiatrists dedicated psychotherapy techniques and conversations in trying to cure the schizophrenia. She manages this, over a three year process, to the degree that the patient is able to leave the hospital, take qualifications and be accepted in a college. Although submitted as a work of fiction, it is semi-autobiographical, and she used a different name initially, as her Mother wanted her to. (although, since it was billed as fiction, I don't know why she was bothered). I really liked it, it gave me a real bite of what it is like to be schizophrenic and to live in two worlds - reality and fantasy with acute hallucinations. Very good indeed and one of the first proof that talking therapies can help without medications.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2011
For anyone interested in mental health and present day treatments compared to 50/60 years ago, this is a fantastic eye-opener. Joanne Greenbergs description of her battle with mental health from an early age (although she fictionalises it) gives insight into both the cause, her treatment and her recovery. Her relationship with Dr Frieda Fromm-Reichman (her psychiatrist) is fundamental to her recovery as well as the support she receives from her family. Pity that most people suffering from psychotic episodes today are not treated in such a humanistic way. The book doesn't pull any punches about life on a psychiatric ward either.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 13 August 1998
A beautifully written, haunting account of a young girl's confinement in a mental institution and her struggle to overcome mental illness, presumably schizophrenia. Written in the early 1960's, the book is terribly archaic in its understanding of schizophrenia, but Greenburg's prose is so bewitching and her protagonist so fascinating, that it is easy to forgive some of her misconceptions about mental illness. her construction of the main character's alternate reality is particularly brilliant, and i found the book more enjoyable when read almost as a fantasy rather than a medical case history. All in all, a powerful, albeit occasionally tedious, work of literature.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 1998
A compelling story that shows the gap that separates the mentally ill from the real world and the thread that binds them, and us, together. As one that feels the way Deborah does occasionally, it's satisfying to know that yes, you are normal, even if it is in abnormality. This book is for anyone that wants to understand others, and themselves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 1998
Greenburg's wonderfully raw and truthful look at a 16 year old mentally ill female is not a novel to be passed over. When I completed the book I felt like I had a much better understanding of how the human mind works. Seeing the patient become well again was a very emotional experience. Please read this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2014
Fabulous book wich gets into the mind of a suffering girl and depicts clearly how a therapist can help, the legth of time, acceptance, lack of judgement, honesty and skill needed. It reminded me of something I learned training to be a clinical psychologist that at some level all defenses and actions and thoughts and feelings make sense and using acceptance, and building trust you can work out with someone why they feel, think and act as they do and then that gives them the choice to, if they want to act, think and feel differently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 November 1998
Its an amazing book ! a book that gives a totally different perspective on the illness, the reasons and the magnitude of it and it makes a poignant plea for understanding. It was a moving experience to find the patient struggle and get well again...
If u are interested in psychology, psychiatry and mental illnesses this is a must read.. Its dark and disturbing at times and requires a certain interest in the area....
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