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Monday, December 28, 2015

REVIEW: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath's amazing novel following a young woman's decent into insanity.  Esther Greenwood is young, beautiful and talented.  However, she is slowly sinking.  Readers follow her path into darkness with fear that this decent will be her last. This novel is haunting in its echos of Plath's own feelings and experience with crippling depression.

This has always been on my radar as a classic I wanted to and should read.  I'd missed it or delayed reading it for one reason or another.  With the 2015 Popsugar Reading Challenge, I finally committed to get to this powerful and amazingly written classic since it fit the "Book You Should Have Read in School" catagory.

Plath certainly didn't pull any punches while depicting Esther's decent into madness or while exploring the stark truths for women at that time.  It's pretty horrifying that this is fiction based in fact but its an important aspect of the past that should not be forgotten. What I liked most about the novel was the ambiguous ending.  Does Esther flourish once she gets out of the santatarium or is it just a reprieve before she begins the decent once more?

I thought a lot about how some students read this in high school. I know the accelerated students did when I was in school.  I'm the last one to advocate challenging a book but I'm pretty shocked it was part of the curriculum given the graphic nature of the descriptions and themes. I don't think a teenager can grasp the whole importance of the narrative that would come with more maturity and life experiences. I wish I would have read it in undergrad or grad school since it would be a powerful book to discuss and write about within an academic setting.

Overall, I enjoyed the book because of the stellar writing but it was rather emotional, especially to read it in a time of year that's supposed to be happy. I recommend the audio as narrated by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's exactly who I might picture as Esther.

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars


#classic #depression #suicide #feminism #SlyviaPlath #BellJar #audiobook

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