A vulnerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare. An autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath’s own mental breakdown and suicide attempt, THE BELL JAR is more than a confessional novel, it is a comic but painful statement of what happens to a woman’s aspirations in a society that refuses to take them seriously…a society that expects electroshock to cure the despair of a sensitive, questioning young artist whose search for identity becomes a terrifying descent toward madness.
Going into reading this book, I knew that it was an autobiographical account of Plath’s own life. I also was supposed to have read this book in high school but I didn’t. I think I decided to because 1. everyone tells me how great it is, 2. I was curious, 3. I know what’s it like to be in a pit of depression.
It took me 2 weeks to read this book. Let me explain to you why. It depressed me even more than I already was. The anxiety it created in reading made my head spin. I HAD to stop reading, break it apart into small readings because it was so sad and yes, depressing. The decent into darkness and hopelessness that Esther goes through is something I, thankfully, haven’t experienced. Her cycle from normal to suicidal was almost instant in reading. Confusing to me as a reader as to how it went from good to so so awful so quickly. I’ve never been so down, so low, so dark that I want to commit suicide, those thoughts have never entered my mind. I’m a blessed person for that. Reading this book made me hurt so much for Esther, for Sylvia. The pain that she feels, you can feel it seeping off the page like the ink is trying to sink into you and explain the pain and hurt that she felt. They both feel in that book.
I don’t think mental health is something discussed enough. I think that’s a taboo subject that people stow away and try to hide from. Which isn’t good. People often have this mind set that depression, anxiety, and suicide are something that can go away if the person really wants it to but I’m afraid you’re wrong. In my case, I will say that I don’t like to talk about when I’m depressed or low. I just devour books, my the case load. I can’t get enough. Escape is my ultimate helper. And books have always helped me heal. I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone that. Books help me heal when my heart, head, or both are hurting.
Do I think this is a good book? Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind that is a book that people should read. It shows a part of mental health that most people don’t see. Especially the scenes with electric shock therapy that was used a lot back then.
Recommend? Yes. But I would say that this book could be a trigger for anyone who has thought about, attempted, or been affected by suicide. It’s a great book to discuss mental health though and would be a good high school/college recommended read.
I will say that my rating will be one of those that’s lower just because of how I explained it took me a while to read because of how depressing the book is.
3 out of 5 stars.