Customer Reviews for

Running with Scissors: A Memoir

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Crazy and Inspirational at the same time

By the age of twelve, Augusten's parents had disintegrated in a mess of alcoholism and delusional psychosis, leaving him with a sense of isolation he is unable to shake. Already school-phobic, he wraps himself in a cocoon of comforting television images and Hollywood fa...
By the age of twelve, Augusten's parents had disintegrated in a mess of alcoholism and delusional psychosis, leaving him with a sense of isolation he is unable to shake. Already school-phobic, he wraps himself in a cocoon of comforting television images and Hollywood fantasies from the late 1970's. When in the course of his mother's treatment Augusten finds himself living with her psychiatrist and his large disorganized family, his struggle for perspective begins. Both disturbing and hilarious at the same time, Burroughs describes the consolation and distress of living in a world where squalor and chaos is so pervasive that it eventually becomes normal. The crux of Augusten's plight is assimilation: to remain in the family and fully integrate their dysfunction into his own life, or to leave and regain control over his future. This is a coming out story of a different kind; while his sexuality is a secondary issue, Augusten still must "come out" and back into functional society.

Burroughs does a fantastic job describing characters in detail rich enough that the reader immediately acquires intuition with regard to their motives. Because of this, it is easy to understand that these are not simply eccentric people. To see them that way would trivialize the challenge the young Augusten faces. Most poignant was his wildly inappropriate sexual relationship with a man twice his age. Augusten suffers endless losses; his parent's marriage, his mother's sanity, the companionship of his surrogate family, but the realization that his "boyfriend" was gone, leaves him feeling emotionally empty and truly abandoned.

"Running with Scissors" never seems whiny because Burroughs never lapses into lamentations about another, better life he could have had. When the inevitable comparison does arise, he shrugs it off without a trace of self-pity. Thankfully, there are no self-help references in this book, no mention of the dreaded "recovery" process, and no maudlin scenes describing reconciliation. As a memoir, the narrative can be tricky in places when Burroughs bounces back and forth without chronological markers. In addition, there are a few tertiary characters that come and go, and keeping track of them can be difficult. However, neither of these detracts from the overall effect of the story.

I finished this wonderful book and admittedly, shed a few tears after the epilogue. Though I think most people will not understand the fragility and isolation of growing up gay, I hope everyone who reads this book will sympathize with the strength of character therein. I thoroughly enjoyed "Running with Scissors" and highly recommend it. If you like this book, you will definitely enjoy Lac Su's memoir, "I Love Yous Are For White People." I'm recommending it here.

posted by Steve11 on August 17, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Not for Children

The only word I can think of to describe this book would be painful. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is very graphic and mostly disturbing. If you are someone who enjoys reading about how messed up a boys life can be then this ...
The only word I can think of to describe this book would be painful. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is very graphic and mostly disturbing. If you are someone who enjoys reading about how messed up a boys life can be then this is a book for you. Augusten went through quite a rough patch from age nine to seventeen. His parents got divorced and neither the mother nor father were mature enough to raise a child. They each had quite a number of problems. The father was an alcoholic and had not a care in the world besides himself. The mother was nothing short of insane. However he seems to luck out and find help from his mothers psychiatrist and finds a sense of family from him. As he tries to understand who he really is he realizes he is gay. Augusten had a very troubling past but seems to have emerged from it confident in his life to come. Anyone who can deal with all that has earned my respect. However I am indifferent on how I feel about this book because it is so disturbing. I had a hard time comprehending how anyone could bear to even live through all he did much less write a book about it. I feel terrible for this young boy, his childhood was nothing short of torture. I also do not understand how this book could be a comedy, a thirteen year old being raped by a thirty three year old is not what I would consider funny. There is some sarcasm throughout the book but I was to disturbed by what was happening to laugh. This was not my kind of book mostly because I usually like more action packed thrillers but it was interesting to say the least. The only thing I took from this book was that no matter what happens in life, when the chips fall you can only control your reaction and make sure it doesn't happen to you.

posted by 1069401 on March 25, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2009

    Not for Children

    The only word I can think of to describe this book would be painful. I would not recommend this book to anyone under the age of eighteen. It is very graphic and mostly disturbing. If you are someone who enjoys reading about how messed up a boys life can be then this is a book for you. Augusten went through quite a rough patch from age nine to seventeen. His parents got divorced and neither the mother nor father were mature enough to raise a child. They each had quite a number of problems. The father was an alcoholic and had not a care in the world besides himself. The mother was nothing short of insane. However he seems to luck out and find help from his mothers psychiatrist and finds a sense of family from him. As he tries to understand who he really is he realizes he is gay. Augusten had a very troubling past but seems to have emerged from it confident in his life to come. Anyone who can deal with all that has earned my respect. However I am indifferent on how I feel about this book because it is so disturbing. I had a hard time comprehending how anyone could bear to even live through all he did much less write a book about it. I feel terrible for this young boy, his childhood was nothing short of torture. I also do not understand how this book could be a comedy, a thirteen year old being raped by a thirty three year old is not what I would consider funny. There is some sarcasm throughout the book but I was to disturbed by what was happening to laugh. This was not my kind of book mostly because I usually like more action packed thrillers but it was interesting to say the least. The only thing I took from this book was that no matter what happens in life, when the chips fall you can only control your reaction and make sure it doesn't happen to you.

    9 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Disturbing account

    Running with Scissors is a disturbing account of a young man's life and self-discovery. The "family" in which he is thrust is dysfunctional and destructive. How he manages to survive is a miracle. The audio book is read by the author which does add to the overall picture. It is quite explicit and definitely not for the average reader.

    The book is a memoir so has no clear ending nor real point other than to shock the reader with its strangeness. Although I found it interesting, I would be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2009

    Not as funny as I had expected from reviews

    I must admit that I was expecting more comedy than the tragedy I found in this book. I guess I didn't find much in Augesten Buroughs' life to laugh at; the emotional traumas he experienced growing up weren't funny. The only reason I even finished it was that I had bought it to read on a long plane flight, and was bored. I have not recommended it to anyone.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2013

    I just didn't like this book. I'm giving two stars simply becaus

    I just didn't like this book. I'm giving two stars simply because it was well written.

    The subject matter was so overblown I simply couldn't believe any if it. If I was told that this was a work of fiction I would have probably enjoyed it more. But to state that any of this was real is just such a long shot. Perhaps some of the basic things in here are true. Bit it just seems exaggerated at best. At worst it comes across as false.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2011

    Not for the faint hearted

    So i just read a review written by a ninth grader. That is horrifying. I am really hoping this poor man exaggerated a bit. Reading gave me a stomach ache. Especially sad is the sexual exploitation of the author and lack of interest from other adults in his life.

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  • Posted October 29, 2010

    Book Review

    I am in 9th grade and recently just finished reading Running with Scissors
    by Augusten Burroughs. I felt the book was not a very good book. Although it was well written it was very mature for a book. It was nothing like i suspected and defiantly kept me reading despite some chapters. I feel it could have been written much better, but it did grab my attention. it should have elaborated on his problems in his life rather than his relationship. I would not recommend this book to other people. I personally like books by Dan Brown so this was a lot different than i am used to reading. I feel he is a much better writer and has more suspenseful books.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    A strange book-

    This book was strange! It was also a little tough to follow. The story is of Augusten who lives with mom and dad in a very dysfunctional home. His mother begins to see a therapist, Dr. Finch and she ends up giving her son to the Doctor. Augusten is homosexual and ends up becoming involved with a thirty-five year old man when he is only thirteen. Very sad. This book was disturbing and very weird. The movie has to be graphic, not sure I will watch it. Very strange and disturbing book.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    How can this book be rated so highly?!!?!?

    I just don't get it! I thought this book was revolting, disgusting, disturbing,and had no redeemable qualities at all! It was loaned to me with a bunch of books, so I trusted my source & started reading it. I forced myself to finish it, but I stayed up very late a couple of nights so that I could get it over with as quickly as possible and move on to a good book! I didn't want it hanging over my head more than a couple of days! It was haunting & sickening. It wasn't until I was finished that I saw that it was an autobiography. I gave it a good rating for originality cause no one could make something like that up, and for writing as the images were VERY clear - WAY TOO CLEAR!!! He had a very rough time growing up with absolutely no "normalcy", and I felt bad for the real person. However, I didn't get out of it that any good came out of it (other than I guess he survived and became a successful?? author), and I have no idea what good it did to read this or why anyone would recommend it. I was embarrassed that I was reading it!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    not funny, not interesting

    First off, this book has little if any comedy in it. Dark comedy, perhaps, but nothing close to what the reviews said. I'm mad I bought this book because it really is very boring and i have yet to find a redeeming quality. The book goes no deeper than outward appearances, probably to keep up the illusion of "comedy." If the book had gone deeper into thought over the author's experiences I probably would have liked the book better because it would have made the book more interesting and it would have given it soul. Instead, I was given alot of rambling about his pedophile boyfriend
    I generally do not like memoirs and this is exhibit one why. I caution anyone interested in this book to check it out from the library before spending your money on it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    Like staring at a trainwreck

    I wish I could erase this story from my memory. This book was like reading someone's worst nightmare. It seems that the author wrote the story to humor people into thinking that what happened to him was okay. He dad abandoned him w/his mom. His mom abandoned him w/ people that were raised by wolves on a dung pile. The book did not have dark humor, it was just sad. I really feel bad for the child who had to live though abandonment, rape, filth, and raised by a bunch of people who should have been committed to an asylum.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2008

    Not what I thought it was about!!

    So I read the back, it said funny. I chuckled once! Some parts are gross!!! I felt that I had to finish the book to see how it ended. I would not recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2008

    What is the point???

    This book was probably one of the worse I have read in a long time. I read a lot and just picked it up on a hunch. The back of the book said it was funny but I cant recall laughing at all. It was horrible. There is nothing funny about the way a young boy was pretty much tortured and brainwashed by a crazy man and his family. The relationships and on goings in the house were completely unbelievable and disgusting. The book entitled 'A child called IT' was a horrifying story about an abused child, but much better than this. At least there was a point to it. I would not recommend this book to my worst enemy. TERRIBLE!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2008

    disappointed & disgusted

    I really should have read reviews on this book before reading it. The only reason I plan on finishing the book is to get my money's worth from it. However, there is a part of me that also wants to see if the craziness calms down in the end. I strongly agree with some of the other reviewers that the sexual scenes were uncalled for and disgusting. I certainly do not want this book lying around the house, so I'll be trashing it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2007

    A reviewer

    The reviews on the back of the book said ' funny, enlightening.' I found the book unbelievably sad and depressing..especially since it was true?!?! The only thing good about this book is that the author is still alive! congratulations on living thru this hellish childhood.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2007

    Sick and disturbing

    I wish he wouldn't have written his memoirs and just kept his warped past to himself. The more I read, the more grossed out by the entire mess.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2007

    I didn't laugh one bit

    I still can't find the humor in this book. What is so funny about a child being abused by a pedophile or being raised by an insane family? However, I can appreciate the story and how this person survived it but there are many things that are better left to ones imagination. The sex scenes were way too explicit and I don't see how it helped the story. If you are curious get it from your library and fast-forward through the explicit sex scenes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2007

    gross!!

    I was really looking forward to reading this book. But, the sex scenes were graphic, digusting and disturbing. I couldn't finish it. Augusten's adult lover is a depraved man, and their interactions were degrading, emotionally violent and horrifying to read about.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2007

    Nothing funny about this book...

    I was suprised anyone would describe this book as 'humorous', when I couldn't help feeling sad and disgusted, particularly at the explicit sexual encounters. I'm not a 'prude' and I know what goes on in the world, but reading should be enjoyable, something you look forward to doing. Running with Scissors is like a car accident that you can't look away from! I would return the book if I could. A real downer..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2007

    Very Deceiving Book

    I will say that the story in itself isn't bad, I might even go so far to say that this is an inspiring story. But to claim that this book is comical is simply untrue. This book is a tragedy. Props to Burroughs for the bravery and guts for not only surviving, but telling his story. But in all honesty what kept me reading was the horror that things couldn't possibly get worse. I would have been okay with this, had the reviews I read not compared the writing of Burroughts to David Sedaris. Sedaris is a side-splitting hilarious and probably one of the best contemporary comedic writers of our time. Burroughs, while he is an okay writer, should have never been put in the same league as Sedaris. For all of those who had the gumption to laugh or take any humor in this book, what the hell is wrong with you? You should have been crying with empathy, not with tears of laughter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2007

    Huge let down..

    After reading the first of the book into Augusten's move in with the wacky family, I found the book pretty interesting and slightly comical. Then out of nowhere he's describing EXPLICIT sex. I thought about tearing the pages out so my husband could still read it, but turned out the whole book is that disgusting. I sure hate to waste my time on a book like this when there are so many other great novels out there. I've learned a lesson about 'bestsellers': they aren't always good.

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