Running With Scissors — Book and Movie

A MemoirRunning With ScissorsLast week, my husband and I watched Running with Scissors.  I know I have heard about it, but I didn’t remember anything I’d heard.  Anyway, when I started watching it, I became aware it was based on a memoir by Augusten Burroughs.  I know you probably think, “you must be kidding, you didn’t know that??”  Well, no, I didn’t.

Watching this movie was a surreal experience.  I could not believe this movie was based on a memoir.  It was too “crazy.”  The characters were so out-there I couldn’t believe they were based on reality.  I was fascinated by a mother who would give her son to a psychiatrist to raise.  And, not just any psychiatrist, but one that seemed crazier than she was.  I was enthralled by this movie and I had to believe that the director must had taken great liberties with the book. 

So, after the movie, I ran over to the library to get out the book.  When I started the book, I couldn’t believe it.  It matched the movie almost exactly (at least in the beginning).  These people actually existed!  Now, I have a doctorate in professional psychology and I still couldn’t fathom this story.  The more I read, the more I was in awe. 

Basically, this memoir of Augusten  tells his story from tween to late teens.  He details his parent’s divorce, his mother’s subsequent psychotic episodes, and his experiences with the Finch family (his mother’s psychiatrist).  There is also a great deal of discussion about his first gay relationship with a 33-year-old man, also an adoptee of the Finch family. 

After reading the book, I did think that the movie did it justice.  There were some changes and a few ommissions, but the movie definitely captured the craziness of Augusten’s teen years.  Although, the actor playing Augusten was a little old to be believable for the age he was suppossed to be.  I found that very distracting in the movie. 

As for the memoir, it read like a novel for young adults.  I often had to remind myself that it was all based on Augusten’s real life.  I am amazed that Augusten turned out okay and is now a successful writer.  While I think living with the Finches was not a healthy way to grow up, they did teach some important lessons, even if they were taken to the extreme. 

I would recommend both the book and the movie and found watching them in tandem to be an interesting experience. 

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5 responses to “Running With Scissors — Book and Movie

  1. Thanks for pairing a review of the movie with the book. I read the book several years ago as part of a book club. I found his childhood unbelievable as well. And I sort of figured he embellished reality a bit to make the memoir more crazy and out there (it was almost too much for me think someone would actually grow up this way!). I have not had a chance to see the movie but I have been curious about it. I may have to check it out now.

  2. I read the book and then saw the movie. I don’t think the movie captured just how crazy that family was. There’s a lot of controversy about how much of the book is actual fact. The psychiatrist’s family and Augusten’s mother spoke out about the book. I found articles about this just by googling. So I thought parts seemed embellished and they actually might be. Who knows? It’ll be his word against theirs. Either way the book was interesting.

  3. I really wanted to see the movie when it came out but missed it. For some reason though I never really considered the book… I think because I kept hearing so much about it that I thought it wouldn’t live up to my reading expectations. Good to hear though that you enjoyed both!

  4. Both the book and the movie are on my lists!

  5. I read the first few chapters of the book and I got waylaid by other books. I want to pick it back up again and then watch the movie.

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