Alright well I finished “The Bell Jar” today and I feel a bit dead inside but I’m ready to discuss. This post may be a bit heavy. Also SPOILERS (if you care…) here we go!
I thoroughly misjudged this book. At first it comes off a little dark but still fairly light hearted. OMFG WAS I WRONG. If I had read the description of the book (which I hardly do) I would’ve seen that this book is actually about a young woman’s mental breakdown. For people prone to self-harm or suicidal impulses this book would probably be very triggering. There are parts that are a bit hard to follow during the period of time where she is thinking a great deal about killing herself and ways she wants to do it. These chapters are a bit fragmented (on purpose since she’s losing her damn mind) which solidifies this as a classic for me. Sylvia sends you on a tailspin right with Esther.
Parts of the latter half of this book were really difficult for me to read which I rarely experience. I’m not usually squeamish or whatever you’d like to call it. The first time she really considers killing herself and almost does was jarring for me. She draws a bath and decides she’ll slit her writs in the tub. But when she looks at her delicate wrists she can’t do it. It seems like she doesn’t really want to hurt herself but something inside herself that isn’t tangible. But she still has the impulse to feel pain so she makes a cut on her leg. I have a close friend who struggled with self-harm for a number of years. It was hard for me to be there for her yet feel so helpless. So that scene was difficult for me.
Also electroshock therapy freaks me the fuck out. I almost didn’t want to read that chapter. Like the way the mental healthcare field used to be… SO SCARY. I guess it still can be. Okay like I love horror and stuff and the movies that really mess me up are the ones that are about like old abandoned asylums. The way it was described in this book was equally as horrifying.
I liked that Sylvia didn’t tell us what happens to Esther. The book ends with her walking into her final interview with her doctors to see if she’s able to leave for college. We don’t know how the interview went or how she is if she does get to go to college. I like that she left it up to us. I like to think Esther made it.
Anyway next up is “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell.