Apr 222009
Authors: kelly bleck

Knocking down the ceiling during the wee hours of the morning, drying bowel movements on the picnic table and communicating with the cat through dreams are only a few of the unusual experiences Augusten Burroughs is thrown into when introduced to his “new” family.

After many fights and much debate, Augusten’s mother, Dierdre, and father go to counseling. The psychiatrist Dierdre finds, Dr. Finch, soon becomes her life line.

Finch soon becomes a counselor and a staple in Augusten’s life. When he does not want to go to school anymore, Finch decides on only one solution.

Augusten is instructed to eat some pills and wash them down with whiskey. In this way, Finch tells the school that Augusten could no longer return because he had attempted suicide.

Through Augusten’s stay in a psychiatric ward for observation and Dierdre consistent downward turns, Finch decides Augusten would have a better, more stable life if he lived at Finch’s house.

This experience would prove life changing.

Augusten immediately befriends Natalie, one of Finch’s biological daughters. Beside the family members, there are multiple patients wandering in the house, staying anywhere from a few hours and several days.

The family’s unusual personalities, including Finch’s wife Agnes’ obsessive sweeping, his daughter Hope’s belief that the cat is talking to her through her dreams and Natalie’s on/off relationship with an older man, distinguish the “no rules” mantra in which Finch runs his house.

In his house, when a person turns 13 they are free to make their own decisions. In this way, Augusten is free to date Finch’s gay son Neil Bookman who is more than twice Augusten’s age.

The family is run by a lack of guidance and the overpowering prescription of Valium for all problems. The relationship between Augusten and Bookman is not viewed as strange but merely accepted, and whenever Augusten has problems with Bookman, Finch picks a new medication.

When Dierdre’s relationship with Finch begins to break down, the familial bonds disintegrate between Augusten and the rest of the house.

He learns who he can trust, what he wants out of life and how to lead it so he is happy, which happens to be away from people under psychiatric care.

Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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