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Books, Journals, New Media
June 9, 1999

Troubled ChildrenBecoming Anna: The Autobiography of a Sixteen-Year-Old

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available


Copyright 1999 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1999American Medical Association


by Anna J. Michener, 256 pp, $22, ISBN 0-226-52401-9, Chicago, Ill, University of Chicago Press, 1998.

JAMA. 1999;281(22):2147-2149. doi:10.1001/jama.281.22.2147-JBK0609-5-1

This is a disturbing book, particularly for those of us who have chosen the career path of child psychiatry or similar professions that try to be of service to troubled children and their families. My first reaction was disbelief, as the tone of the writing is so dramatic and negative. Ultimately, I came to believe that the essential features are most likely true. In the epilogue, the author indicates that she wrote the book, which covers her earliest years and into her 15th year, between her 16th and 17th birthdays. The suggestion is that it was written from memory, and thus it is doubtful that the numerous verbatim quotes and long stretches of dialogue are entirely accurate. However, that is probably the case with most retrospective autobiographical writing. Having accepted that the material is credible, I will first briefly recount the story as it enfolds.

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