Cover image for Becoming Anna : the autobiography of a sixteen-year-old
Title:
Becoming Anna : the autobiography of a sixteen-year-old
ISBN:
9780226524016

9780226524030
Publication Information:
Chicago, Ill. : University of Chicago Press, c1998.
Physical Description:
256 p. ; 23 cm.
Reading Level:
1030 L Lexile
Personal Subject:
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Book 921 MICHENE 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Book 921 MICHENE 1 1
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Becoming Anna is the poignant memoir of the first sixteen years in the life of Anna Michener, a young woman who fought a painful battle against her abusive family. Labeled "crazy girl" for much of her childhood, Anna suffered physical and emotional damage at the hands of the adults who were supposed to love and protect her. Committed to various mental institutions by her family, at sixteen Anna was finally able to escape her chaotic home life and enter a foster home. As an effort toward recovery and self-affirmation as well as a powerful plea on behalf of other abused children, Anna wrote this memoir while the experience was fresh and the emotions were still raw and unhealed. Her story is a powerful tale of survival.

"A teen's raw, in-your-face chronicle of events almost as they were happening. As such, it's unforgettable. . . . Michener's story gives voice to the thousands of children and adolescents trapped in 'the system,' biding their time until their 18th birthdays. A candid and unstinting tell-all."-- Kirkus Reviews

"Extraordinary. . . . Michener's expressive writing does justice to a topic that is clearly very disturbing to her personally and communicates a profoundly important message on behalf of all abused and neglected children."-- Booklist

"An important book, painful to read, but essential if other children in similar situations are to be saved."-- Library Journal

"An innocent child's account of 16 years in hell and of the terrible wrongs inflicted on children who are without rights or caring advocates."-- Choice

"[Michener] emerges as a compelling and courageous advocate for children and their welfare--she's a young writer with an extraordinary voice." Feminist Bookstore News

"Quite simply one of the best, most compelling, well-written autobiographies published in years. . . . Remember the name. We have not heard the last of Anna Michener."--Myree Whitfield, Melbourne Herald-Sun , cover story


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Institutionalized at 15 by her abusive parents, the author, then known as "Tiffany," was abused for several months by the staff of mental hospitals. Her state-sanctioned treatment consisted of overmedication, physical and emotional intimidation, illegal incarceration and painful criticism from teachers and psychiatric counselors. At the end of that year, when she was surrendered by her mother and taken in by foster parents, Tiffany became Anna. Were this a novel, sympathy for the overwriting, self-sanctifying, pathetic narrator would run awfully thin. Other, tougher kids called her "Crazy Girl," she recalls, "In a world that had never been anything but oppressive and cruel to any of us, they thought it was crazy for me to still have some innocence, some passion, some caring for other people, and some hope for a better world. They called me crazy with affection. They wanted me to stay that way." Michener might convince readers that she is not crazy, but it's hard to accept her rosy perception of herself and the demonization of nearly every authority‘and parental‘figure. Her vague and predictable descriptions of the mental institutions reveal less than a few minutes with One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest: the "clients" are generally good, misunderstood; the staff, for the most part, are bad, bitter, soulless sadists. When Michener describes her preinstitutional diaries as "a rather disorganized mix of fact and fiction, and hardly anything was finished before the next page was talking about something new," she could almost be summing up the autobiography. Professional psychologists get paid to listen to desperately anxious remembrances and imaginings, but readers don't. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Kirkus Review

This memoir doesnŽt boast the perspective of hindsight; itŽs a teenŽs raw. in-your-face chronicle of events almost as they were happening. As such, itŽs unforgettable. MichenerŽs family of origin included a father who beat her and collected pornographic photo albums, an unstable mother who suffered from physical disease but inflicted deeper psychological wounds on her children, and a grandmother with a Ph.D. in psychology who, in a complete perversion of grandmotherly stereotypes, used to attack the author with her knitting needles. Sadly, MichenerŽs story only gets worse when her parents have her committed, first to a private, then a state, mental institution. She relates one story after another of young teens who suffered from parental abuse being permanently labeled ŽcrazyŽ and never finding help within the system. To Michener, the staff members at the mental hospital seemed far more sadistic and deranged (Nurse Ratchet types) than the patients. For the first few months, she was overmedicated, unable to walk without clutching the wall. For small infractions, patients would be kept in a urine-drenched solitary confinement cell. When Michener was 16, her mother temporarily released her from the mental hospital, and before she could be committed again, the girl moved away and became the ward of her best friendŽs grandparents, who hired a lawyer and sued for custody. Michener (her adopted last name) notes in the epilogue that what bothers her most about her story is that its happy ending is purely accidental: ŽI simply lucked out. I had . . . absolutely no say in my own fate, and this is true of all children in this country.Ž MichenerŽs story gives voice to the thousands of children and adolescents trapped in Žthe system,Ž biding their time until their 18th birthdays. A candid and unstinting tell-all.


Booklist Review

In 16-year-old Michener's extraordinary memoir, written shortly after she assumed a new identity and new name, she recounts a childhood of physical and emotional abuse, first at the hands of her family, then at two facilities (one private, one state run) in which she was institutionalized for much of her adolescence. With wisdom beyond her years, this young author relates her early instinctive knowledge that "crazy" is a label applied to perfectly sane children whose behavior is a normal reaction to horrible conditions, a label used by uncaring and abusive family members to obscure the reality of mistreatment, and one which "experts" and facility staff members are all too willing to apply. With heartbreaking acuity, she describes the oppressive control imposed by institutions through the use of drugs, discipline, and monitoring--control that can break a person's spirit and bring about mental and emotional collapse. Michener's expressive writing does justice to a topic that is clearly very disturbing to her personally and communicates a profoundly important message on behalf of all abused and neglected children. --Grace Fill


Choice Review

Michener writes not only for and of herself but for and of countless other abused and abandoned children who are punished for the sins of their parents. From birth, the girl, who did not become Anna Michener until her late teens, was the emotional and physical target of the warped, sadistic, and vengeful triad of her mother, father, and grandmother, each of whom shifted the burden of their self-hate to Anna. The more Anna struggled to accommodate--either by compliance or protest--this viciously unpredictable family, the more Anna herself became labeled the "problem." Ultimately parental authority was joined to the authority of the mental health professionals; with terrible, self-righteous ease they declared Anna mentally ill. She was involuntarily committed to a public mental institution, where she spent her adolescent years in the midst of a population of other "throw-away" children. Despite the title, this is not really the story of "becoming Anna"; rather, it is an innocent child's account of 16 years in hell and of the terrible wrongs inflicted on children who are without rights or caring advocates. Recommended for readers at all levels, especially students and faculty in sociology, social work, psychology, social policy. M. R. Fowlkes; University of Connecticut


Table of Contents

1

p. 1

2

p. 19

3

p. 31

4

p. 47

5

p. 64

6

p. 77

7

p. 90

8

p. 104

9

p. 116

10

p. 131

11

p. 147

12

p. 163

13

p. 176

14

p. 191

15

p. 203

16

p. 218

17

p. 231

18

p. 243

Epiloguep. 251