Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Ting. Tingle, tingle, tremble toes, she’s a good fisherman, catches hens, puts ’em inna pens…wire blier, limber lock, three geese inna flock… one flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest… O-U-T spells out… goose swoops down and plucks you out. – Nursery Rhyme of the novel


My immediate first thought once I read the last line of Ken Kesey’s novel was: What the f? Did that really just happen??

It wasn’t quite yelling those questions inside my head, but it was close. I was stunned. I mean, I understand why it ended the way it did, but I still couldn’t believe it.

Okay, let’s go back to the beginning shall we?

I will admit, because of certain distractions (stupid iPhone and all its pretty apps) I had a slow start to this book. However, once I put my phone and other distractions aside, I dove into the book and quickly got immersed.

I absolutely lovedthe character of McMurphy and the story’s narrator Chief Bromden. One is loud and the other is quiet.  They form an interesting friendship that I wish I knew more of, but getting Bromden’s perspective was enough.

I personally connected with Bromden mainly because he is very quiet and observant and believes himself to be rarely heard, like me sometimes. That is until the giant-framed, redheaded McMurphy flies onto the ward.

I will also admit, that because my mind no longer analyzes books while I read, I’m not sure I fully grasped all the symbolism, etc. of the book.

The one thing that I (hopefully) grasped was what McMurphy symbolized. While he probably symbolizes many different things, I think the biggest thing was him being a representation of the outside world and a reminder to the others that they’re human – they deserve to feel, to experience, to be well, to be themselves, and not to be ashamed of that. Because no matter what, McMurphy refused to be anything other than himself or who he wanted to be, whatever that looked like.

And that infuriating nurse wanted to take that away from everyone single one of them, McMurphy most of all. Simply because they didn’t fit perfectly into society’s – and her’s – version of the world. I think she enjoyed the control and power she had because I don’t think she would ever gain that much control and power, especially over men, outside the ward.

It definitely has an interesting dynamic of who does and doesn’t have the power in addition to portraying a different kind of good vs evil story. Though, like with anything, there was more gray in this story because I could see things from both the men’s perspective and of course the female nurse and be able to see parts of why they do what they do.

One thing I really did enjoy about this book was seeing the main story play out by an observer, a character who is important to the whole story they’re narrating. You kind of get to experience more than one character that way while avoiding multiple POVs.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it’s one that I will reread, at least in the near future.

I still can’t believe that ending actually occurred.

Have you read this novel? Tell me what you thought!

Happy Reading!

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