About My Book Reviews

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green

Title: I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

Author: Hannah Green, Joanne Greenberg

Published: 1964

Genre: General Fiction

Grade Level: Adult

-Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts / Suicidal attempts

-Movie Rating: PG-13

-Features: Schizophrenia


Blurb (from goodreads):

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is the story of a sixteen-year-old who retreats from reality into the bondage of a lushly imagined but threatening kingdom, and her slow and painful journey back to sanity.

Chronicles the three-year battle of a mentally ill, but perceptive, teenage girl against a world of her own creation, emphasizing her relationship with the doctor who gave her the ammunition of self-understanding with which to help herself.

"I wrote this novel, which is a fictionalized autobiography, to give a picture of what being schizophrenic feels like and what can be accomplished with a trusting relationship between a gifted therapist and a willing patient. It is not a case history or study. I like to think it is a hymn to reality." —Joanne Greenberg.

My Scores:

Writing Style: Solid

The writing style is very abstract. It’s more like poetry than a narrative. So, even though it’s a rather short book, it takes a lot of effort to interpret what’s going on.

I can’t say that I prefer this kind of writing style but having earned a bachelor’s in English I have certainly learned how to appreciate it. I almost wish I had read this in a college class because everyone will see something different and that always helps to bring about a fuller understanding of the novel.

The writing is similar to books like Nightwood by Djuna Barnes and Enchanted by Rene Denfled.

Link to review of Enchanted: https://www.krwardbookreview.com/2018/12/the-enchanted-by-rene-denfeld.html


Characters: Full Developed

I loved how many complex social dynamics there were in this novel.

-How mental illness effects the whole family

-How society treats the mentally ill

-How the mentally ill treat each other

-How easily the mentally ill become institutionalized

-How not every psychiatrist works for every patient

I also liked that the MC, Deborah, was so relatable. Her anxiety and depression are caused by the same things that most of use stress over. It’s simply her reactions to that stress that separate her, and that’s what she struggle’s with throughout the course of the novel.


Plot: Enjoyable

I felt the novel was well-paced. There weren’t any twists per say, but the plot was always interesting because I was invested in the MC. I was always in Deborah’s corner, one part rooting for her and two parts trying to reason with her like I was one of her parental figures. Most especially at the end did I want to take the girl by the shoulders and shake some sense into her!

It’s hard to talk about without giving too much away, but basically I found the ending to be quite odd. I felt more the midpoint of most other novels. I can come up with a few reasons why the author chose to end on such a weird note, but I still don’t have to like it.


Overall: Enjoyable

Overall, I’m glad to have read it. I didn’t enjoy the abstract nature of the writing style, but I did enjoy the subject matter which is the only reason why I was interested in the first place and the only reason why I stuck it out.



Insanity effects more than just the insane.

The world is not a “rose garden” but worth the work to be a part of it.

“My difference is not my sickness.”


Goodreads Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Possible spoiler:

In the beginning there seemed to be an indication that the father had molested his daughter, Deborah. The language being the way it is, there was nothing conclusive. I hate that this was brought up in the beginning and then never mentioned again, especially during theory. Why hint at it in the first place if you’re not going to follow through?

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