Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Cracker Factory

I don't know what possessed me, but I picked up The Cracker Factory last weekend and finished it in a couple of sittings. The Cracker Factory is a 1977 novel by Joyce Rebeta-Burditt that was turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1979. Years ago, I picked it up at a used book sale, and I decided to read it recently.

The cover of the book stated that it's comparable to One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. Perhaps the female version. It does have some similar plot points which would link the two. The Cracker Factory is set in a mental hospital, but it deals with a female narrator.

The protagonist and narrator, Cassie, is a young wife and mother who is unhappy with her life. Her husband is emotionally abusive, so she drinks in order to solve her inner problems. Her drinking and depression spiral out of hand; she drives under the influence with her children and eventually attempts suicide. Cassie lands in the mental hospital where she feels more at home.

Cassie loves this life because she is separated with her husband and she has time to herself. She doesn't have to do all of her chores for her children and husband. So, she wants to draw out as much time as possible to stay there.

Cassie has such an odd relationship with her psychiatrist, Dr. Alexander, who she has some weird crush on. She doesn't want to pursue it, but she is fascinated with this man. He won't let her return home, but Cassie eventually does decide to come home after Christmas once her son is sick.

The novel wasn't all that interesting. It is mostly Cassie's inner thoughts on her depression and drinking, which might be interesting to some. She has random interactions around the mental hospital, dealing with weird patients and doctors. Cassie is seen as the ideal patient since she seems the most together and because she visits AA meetings. She seems to have it the most together.

One weird factor that seemed to just be thrown in there was Cassie's affair. She supposedly had an affair with a man that is never really brought up. She also had another affair with one of her husband's friends. It doesn't really seem characteristic of her, but I guess it shows her unhappiness and how she really isn't cut out for the life of being a committed mother.

But, the ending didn't make sense to me at all. I actually had some problems with buying the ending. Cassie was so unhappy with her husband. She loathed him. She didn't love him. She wanted to live alone nearby to get her act together. That was her plan. But, when she goes home, she lets her husband make love to her. Her son gets sick, and she has a revelation that she wants to stay there and take care of him. She wants to return to her house to be the mother that she never was.

And, tie in some resentment from the angry mother who thought she was lazy and doing this on purpose. Weird characters are weaved in throughout.

Ahem. What a whim! How could that knock sense into her?? Give it two months and she'll be right back to where she was--drinking and landing in the hospital. I just didn't buy it. It seemed like it needed a sequel because she'd go right back. There wasn't any change or growth. What was the point of the novel then? It ends like it starts! Nothing was really accomplished!

After all of that, the ending was a total downer to me.

But, I researched that this book was turned into a movie two years after it came out. I didn't realize it was this popular. Has anyone else read it?

That's my refelction. I would only recommend it if you like internal narratives, mental disorders, depression, addiction, and/or adultery. So-so. Just wanted some feedback I guess.

So what do you think of The Cracker Factory?

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