Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, is about a young girl named Esther who has a difficult time finding herself while she is away from home with a number of other girls trying to launch a career of some sort. She goes back home and things seem to spiral downward from there. Her depression worsens and she is sent to a psychologist for therapy. I don't want to spoil the book but she does end up receiving rather strong treatment at different facilities and it goes on from there. I picked up this book after reading a few intriguing quotations on a blog; I thought that I would be able to relate to it easily. "I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo." Right at the start, there's a melancholic tone that settles in between the lines and pulls you in and doesn't let go. Halfway through the book, I felt a sense of deja vu creep upon me. I finally figured that this reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye and was not surprised when others agreed. It could be said that this is the female version of that book but I think both books just have a deeper insight into the everyday or not so everyday happenings that occur once you turn 18 and grow on from there. It's a trip inside the minds of two young adults; it touches base with what we are afraid of, it digs down deep. It is extremely depressing so if you don't bounce back fast, I don't recommend it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will probably reread it one day in the future. 5/5. -Reviewed by L.G., grade 11.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier

Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Tracy Chevalier, is about how there was strict social order in Holland. It was rich and poor, Catholic and Protestant, master and servant, and everyone knew their place and would not dare get out of line. A sixteen-year-old girl, Griet, becomes a maid at painter Johannes Vermeer's house to help support her family. She thinks that her role as a maid is simple: do the laundry, housework and take care of the six children. She even feels that Vermeer's perceptive mother-in-law is fond of her because she gets him to paint faster. However, that no one expects is that Griet's quiet and shy manner, quick perceptions, and fascination with her master's painting draw her relentlessly into his world. Their growing intimacy starts rumors at the market; and when Vermeer has no choice but to paint her wearing his wife's pearl earrings, the gossip escalates into a scandal that completely changes Griet's life. This book shows how life in Griet's eyes was. From working as a maid to how the choice of marriage was up to her father. This book shows how work in Delft was not the easiest and the poor would have to work hard to get enough money for food on the table. Furthermore, this book describes that life can drastically change at any given time. This book made me realize how hard and different life was back in the days and how easy we have it right now. Girl With a Pearl Earring was an astonishing book that gave me a clear and brief image of Delft. It taught me that the life of a maid was not the easiest and once you become a maid, you have to make sacrifices. I would highly recommend this book to readers to show them how life now is much easier than how it was a couple of centuries ago.
-Reviewed by J.T., grade 9.