The Bell Jar is a book that had been rearing its head much like Catcher In The Rye had, and it seems they’ve provoked a similar response. As in, they were good and enjoyable, but I didn’t personally click with it, which is – according to the countless fans of the book I know – a shame.
I went into this without knowing what it was about; all I knew was that the book was popular and came highly recommended and, really, there’s little more I need than that. I just like to read. The story drew me in through a character experiencing life for the first time in many senses – her first travels to New York, her befriending of new types of characters, her desires to pursue sex before marriage. I was further drawn in by her relationship with Buddy and the ways in which it changed and grew, but when she fell depressed, I felt the book lose my interest.
Not that I have problems with reading about depression – far from it – but I did feel that it was portrayed a little… off. It seemed very much like a pity-fest, and that Esther’s battles with it weren’t 100% valid (probably the wrong word choice, but it’s the best I have at this hour). Her attempts to end her life, which would spiral from true despair, seemed half-baked. It’s not something I’ve personally battled with, so I can’t say with certainty that it wasn’t conveyed properly, but it just seems like, despite it being set in a different time and culture, it doesn’t do justice to the issues it deals with. I mentioned this to a few people, and they agree with me on various levels, and I understand others will disagree.
The journey from falling into depression to her perceived recovery just seems too easy, and that was a little unsettling as a reader. It is a good read though, and there are enough plot lines to keep you interested. Having said that, the way the main issue was handled and portrayed was somewhat off-putting.