One of my very favorite classes in high school was College Bound Reading, or CBR for short. Basically, you got to sit and read during class every day (heaven!) You chose from a list of books and had to read so many from every category, and then you would answer some questions or take a little quiz to make sure you read your chosen books. I read a lot of great stories and tales in that class, but there were still so many great books that I didn’t get a chance to read. One of those, was The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. I just read it now, and it takes the place of a ‘classic’ you never read in school on my book bingo list.
The Bell Jar takes you to New York City in the 1950’s where we meet Esther. It seems like everything is going her way – she is smart, she has a college scholarship, a boy who wants to marry her, and she is spending the summer in NYC as an intern at a fashion magazine (complete with fabulous clothes, fancy dinners, and great experiences!) But as the summer progresses, we join Esther on a journey into mental breakdown and get an inside look as to just how deep, lonely, terrible, and somehow normal that can be. Plath writes from experience, which makes this book even more haunting. This is a fictional tale, but it comes from a place of knowing, and you experience every emotion and paranoia right along with Esther.
Even though this book is a bit of a downer (just a bit…..) I am glad that I read it. It was such a realistic reading experience and I felt mentally and emotionally exhausted at the end. It was fascinating to read and wonder what was purely fiction and what parts were taken straight out of the author’s life. I even got another book from the library (called Pain, Parties, Work) about Sylvia’s summer spent in NYC, just to learn more and even compare.
Have you read this one? Did it leave you feeling drained, too? What did you think? Also, LOOK! I got my first BINGO!!! Hooray!