November 15, 2009

Review: Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

Release Date: 2002
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her psychiatrist, a dead-ringer for Santa and a lunatic in the bargain. Suddenly, at age twelve, Augusten Burroughs found himself living in a dilapidated Victorian in perfect squalor. The doctor's bizarre family, a few patients, and a pedophile living in the backyard shed completed the tableau. Here, there were no rules, there was no school. The Christmas tree stayed up until summer, and Valium was eaten like Pez. And when things got dull, there was always the vintage electroshock therapy machine under the stairs... RUNNING WITH SCISSORS is at turns foul and harrowing, compelling and maniacally funny. But above all, it chronicles an ordinary boy's survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.


If you have anything against homosexuals, oral sex, smokers, drugs, and shrinks, then this book clearly isn't for you.

Okay, now that we've got that out of the way, let me start by saying this book was totally hilarious. I don't mean hilarious in the I-giggled-mildly-sense but in the I-was-chortling-so-loud-by-myself-people-started-to-think-I-was-insane way.

First of all, Augusten Burrough's personality just shines through the pages. You can see his transformation from a boy who loves all things shiny into a I-want-to-be-a-professional-cosmetologist teenager. You can't help but feel sorry for him due to all the horrible things he's going through. First of all, his father doesn't want him, his mother is gradually going insane, and she gave him away to her shrink (who might be crazier than his mother). However, you sort of want to stick around and read about his hilarious adventures.

We can also see his growing relationships with the members of the Finch family, Dr. Finch (who told him to OD so he could get out of school), Hope (who killed her own cat), and Natalie (the person who introduced him to the shock therapy machine). They all sort of blend together to form a family that defines dysfunctional.

Although the book is pretty funny throughout, it can get pretty depressing at times. There's a darkness somewhere underneath all that humor. It tells us that life can be really hard, and that a person can only take so much. The book also asks the ultimate question: Is blood really thicker than water? Also, the book features one of literature's oldest themes: What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.

Augusten Burroughs has also developed a writing style that is truly his. For some reason, his writing style reminds me of peanut butter, the thick rich kind without peanut bits.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but I don't think it's for the faint of heart. If you want to read something that makes you feel all fuzzy inside, then Running With Scissors isn't for you.

Rating: 8 out of 10

1 comment :

Amy said...

I know what you mean by funny yet depressing at the same time, I could never be funny if I was in his situation.
It was a little too graphic for me, but then again that made it all the more real.
I love your reviews- all very in-depth.