THE BELL JAR/Sylvia Plath

I have expected to really love this book. When I decided to join in the buddy read over at the book club, I was totally looking forward to be more participative and engage in enlightening discussions about the book. Aside from the excitement of having buddies to read The Bell Jar with, I am also curious about the story because some of the books I’ve read mentioned this book (i.e. Markus Zusak’s I Am The Messenger and John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars).

However, it is just disappointing that when I finished reading, I didn’t keel over in delight. It’s not that The Bell Jar is a bad read. It is far from that. The writing is excellent, after all Sylvia Plath is popular as a poet during her time. The plot is semi-autobiographical, as some reviews say, because the story is based on the author’s own life. The protagonist, Esther Greenwood, seems to have the everything a young lady in America longs to have. She was accepted to work as an intern in a prominent fashion magazine in New York and she has the opportunity to enjoy to her fill of good clothes, make-up, clubs, and, men. However, Esther’s gloomy state wasn’t appeased and she continues to watch the world with gloomy eyes.

The Bell Jar is supposed to be a sad book. After all, it is patterned after the author’s life who committed suicide months after the book is published. The main character also had several suicide attempts and was even admitted to a mental asylum for clinical depression. Mental illness is something that I may not totally relate well with, but it is a subject that usually fascinates me. Suicide isn’t exactly a happy topic, but one thing that makes this book different is that Sylvia Plath managed to write about mental breakdowns as something that comes naturally in some people like the main character. In fact, while reading the book, one doesn’t actually feel sad. There are humorous events in Esther’s life and her musings are not at all sad.

It would have been very easy to love the story. In fact, there are parts that I also love such as the transition of the fig tree inside Esther’s mind, her reflections with the giving of tips which I find very comical, and her relationship with Buddy Willard. But because there was a “major” book club event that affected my mood, my reading experience was somehow soured. And that alone was what actually made me not appreciate the book more.

If I do a re-read, I feel I will rate this more than my rating now. But there are other unread books that are calling screaming at my attention, I am afraid a second read isn’t a priority at this time. And that is what is all the more sad.

2/5 stars.

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