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Sisters in Sanity Hardcover – August 28, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Hardcover, August 28, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Where are they taking me?"

"It's for your own good, Brit," Dad said.

I was shoved into a small, stuffy room, and the door was locked behind me. I waited for my dad to realize he'd made a terrible mistake and come get me.

But he didn't.

For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, it's hard to know who she can trust. Convinced she's out of control, her father has sentenced her to Red Rock: a center for supposedly rebellious teens, where the therapy consists of name-calling and the girls who get privileges are the ones who rat out their peers.

But then Brit meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie—four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together, they'll hold on to their sanity and their sisterhood despite the bleak Red Rock reality.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060887478
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060887476
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,733,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Most of us never have to worry about going on a family vacation, only to find out that we're being unceremoniously dropped off at a boot camp, instead. We have never questioned the imminent arrival of "escorts" who come in the middle of the night and drag us away, kicking and screaming, from our home. We've never wondered what it would be like to be shuffled off by our parents to a "rehabilitation school" because we're overweight -- or because we might possibly be gay. For Brit, V, Bebe, Cassie, and Martha, however, the above mentioned scenarios aren't just nightmares. They're real events.

Welcome to Red Rock, a "school" in the middle of Utah run by the Sheriff, staffed by pseudo-psychiatrists like Dr. Clayton, and guarded by former bouncers with more muscles than brains. This is the place where parents can send their children when they rebel, misbehave, or show antisocial behavior. Red Rock offers such pleasantries as "confrontational therapy," where girls are called names and hounded until they break down and cry, a punishment system where being sent back to Level One status means complete isolation and no shoes, and where the food comes in freeze dried blocks.

The problem is that, although there may be a few "students" at Red Rock who really belong in such a school, most of them, like main character Brit, don't. These are teens who may have lost their way, sure, but their behavior isn't anything beyond normal adolescent angst. But what the parents don't know -- and what it's up to the Sisters in Sanity to prove -- is that Red Rock is a place full of fakes who are doing more harm than good.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Grade: D-

Brit's father says they're going on vacation, but instead drops her off at Red Rock, a therapeutic boarding school run more like a prison than a school. Verbal abuse is the cornerstone of the "therapy", but Brit manages to make friends. Soon she discovers Red Rock may have secrets of its own. Dangerous secrets.

I'm a child psychologist and very picky with inaccurate mental health/therapy stories. SISTERS IN SANITY is the literary equivalent of an overwrought Lifetime TV movie. The formula: victim, injustice, empowerment, happy ending. Gayle Forman couldn't have done five minutes of research on licensing, treatment centers and insurance reimbursement. Insurances pay at most 28 days, usually much less, thanks to HMOs. Treatment facilities, even bad ones don't have patients/students running the halls at night with pass keys, sneaking in to offices to steal files.

Gayle Forman is a decent writer, much better than she's shown in SISTERS IN SANITY. She can create great, multi dimensional characters. Brit was likable enough, she had a few layers, but most weren't unique or special. I felt like I've seen her character in other books. Her mother's mental illness was a good addition to the plot, unfortunately Forman didn't capture the true essence of a schizophrenic. Instead, it seemed like she read some symptom list and took them literally.

THEMES: mental illness, friendship, family, bands, psych hospitals

Skip SISTERS IN SANITY unless you don't care about inaccurate portrayals of mental illness.
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Format: Hardcover
Sisters In Sanity is the story of Brit, a teenage girl, plays in a band, dyes her hair, isn't her stepmother's biggest fan- typical teenager. So when her dad tells her they're going on a family trip to the Grand Canyon and dumps her at Red Rock, a rehabilitation centre for troubled teens Brit's world is turned upside down.

This book infuriated me. Not because it was bad, it was an excellent book but the subject matter and behaviour of the characters was horrifying at times particularly because you know that girls like Brit are being forced into similar situations every day. Brit is diagnosed with Opposition Defiant Disorder otherwise known as being a normal teen in my humble opinion. She is forced into humiliating situations, coerced into participating in confrontational therapy which involves tearing a person's character apart until they crumble and denied any contact with the outside world. It's clear from the word go that Red Rock is a messed up excuse for a therapy centre run by cowboys.

Brit comes together with a group of girls who become a vital and stable support system that gets them through the craziness. Each girl has a distinct personality and brings a different facet to the group calling themselves - Sisters In Sanity - they resolve to survive and take down Red Rock.

This is a very character driven book and Forman really does an excellent job of shaping each character into a real, fleshed out person. I don't think I've ever had such visceral reactions to fictional people before. Particularly Brit's dad who has to be one of the most infuriating and spineless characters I've ever come across.
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