Teen Book Review – Carol C.

Thanks to Teen Advisory Group member Carol for the following review.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
The Bell Jar tells the story of a young college girl in the 1900s, Esther Greenwood, who travels to New York to work on a magazine as a guest editor. She works with 11 other girls who got into the program, and she begins to make new friends with the rebellious Doreen and the perky conformist Betsy. However, soon, Esther begins to wonder what the meaning of her life really is, and she describes herself as living in a “bell jar” – where she is trapped and suffocating with no air, just like how she feels everything around her is lifeless. When she returns home and realizes she did not get accepted to the writing class to a school she wanted to take, she attempts to kill herself. Soon, she is taken to different mental asylums and attempts to escape from her depression. A very witty and thoughtful novel, The Bell Jar whirls you to the heart of the human mind and the explores the true meaning of life.

What I really enjoyed about this novel was the theme of hypocrisy and masks. When Esther finds out that her college boyfriend, Buddy Willard, is not who he says he is, she is immediately repelled by his hypocrisy and decides not to pursue this relationship any further. To the outside observer, Buddy looks like a young, handsome and intelligent man who is pursuing medicine at Yale. However, she rejects the seemingly “perfect” man and listens to her morals instead, which I believe is a very strong move for a girl at the time. She does not conform to society, but follows her own heart, which is what makes Esther such a fascinating and complex character. The Bell Jar is definitely an atypical and bizarre book that will make you view the world through a very different lens.
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