Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath Harper Perennial

I am genuinely surprised that I’d enjoyed The Bell Jar this much. The first time I tried reading it was back in 2018 but couldn’t continue after just a few chapters. It really affected my mood, and maybe that’s because I wasn’t in the best place emotionally speaking back then. But now that has changed, and I’m glad I decided to give this book a second chance!

Despite being a rather sad story about Esther Greenwood going mad with depression (and possibly schizophrenia), her peculiar retellings and personality have made her a memorable character for me. Mental health is a topic that’s greatly discussed nowadays, but it wasn’t so much in the ’60s when it was first published. And while most of us stay informed, only a handful undergo severe conditions like the one Sylvia Plath recounted.

In addition to the psychological side of this novel, here Plath goes beyond and shares common experiences, misconceptions, and doubts that many young women go through while entering womanhood.

Despite being a little over 200 pages long, here the reader will experiment alongside Esther, all sorts of emotions — from funny moments to very gruesome ones. The quality of Sylvia Plath’s writing makes it all palpable and real, being simple yet beautiful.

I can officially say it has become a new favorite of mine, and it won’t be my last time reading it.

“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.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Overall rating: 4/5

* Trigger warning: suicide

Review: A Promised Land

Finally, three months later I finished reading A Promised Land. You have no idea how many times I struggled and was about to quit, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, the book is fantastic, but the length is something you should take into consideration if you want to read it. I’d suggest going for the audio format, but that’s just me.

Anyway, for those who don’t know, A Promised Land is a memoir by Barack Obama — the 44th president of the United States. It starts by briefly narrating his early life, how he was raised, and his experience as a college student, the moment in which his devotion towards politics begun. Afterward, he narrates how he achieved his position as a senator, leading him to run as a presidential candidate for the democratic party in 2007. This first volume ends with the finalization of his first term as president. And in between the retellings of his political career, Obama unveils himself to all the readers just as he is: a father, a husband, a son, a friend.

We must give props to Barack Obama, not only for his leadership skills but also for this writing style. While reading some sections, it was easy to forget that I had a memoir in front of me because the prose was so vivid and fluid. However, it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. A great chunk of the book focuses solely on political events, decisions he had to make, and why he took them. Some parts were also pretty technical with explanations and details on political, economic, health, and military aspects.

Continue reading “Review: A Promised Land”

Review: The Institute

Hi there!

This is the second book I read by Stephen King. The first book was The Outsider, which I also read at the beginning of this year. Neither of them have disappointed, quite the opposite, I can’t wait to read more of his work! Specially his most famous ones, like The Shining, Carrie, Salem’s Lot — and the list goes on.

Anyway, here’s the book summary of The Institue based on Goodreads:

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

To be honest, the beginning felt a bit slow and confusing, as it was completely unrelated to the book summary. That’s because, unlike most novels, it began narrating the backstory of a secondary character which connects with everything else much later. However, once it got to the main character’s part, Luke, the pace picked up. 

What I loved most about this book is the way it explored teenage friendships and the impact that it had on the protagonists while trying to stay motivated to find some sort of escape. I don’t want to give out any spoilers, but this story proves the importance of bonds and the effects it has during difficult circumstances. In that aspect, it felt more on the YA realm, but with horrendous scenes. 

Continue reading “Review: The Institute”

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

Hi! I finished this book about two weeks ago but I didn’t have much time to share the review here. Life has been hectic lately but hopefully I’ll be able to share more information on that during this month. Anyway, I don’t want to get off track here, so let’s begin discussing this book.

The first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird was back in 8th grade for a school assignment. However, for some strange reason I don’t recall much from it aside the general themes, so when I picked it up in May, it felt as if it were my first time reading it.

It is a short but powerful book. The protagonist is Jean Louis Finch a.k.a Scout, a 6-year-old girl who lives in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s. She recounts her day-to-day experiences, such as playing with her older brother Jem, her first day at school, neighborhood gossip, among other things.

The plot takes an important turn when her father, Atticus Finch, who’s a lawyer, becomes involved in a complicated case where he seeks to convince the jury that his client Tom Robinson, a man of color, is innocent on the accusation of having raped a white woman.

The story is narrated from Scout’s perspective, who has a more innocent and practical way of seeing things. Here we witness how she matures and learns as the story progresses.

The book covers important topics such as racism, discrimination, and gender roles. It is full of valuable life lessons on morality, and how sometimes children can identifier easier the difference between right and wrong.

It’s a classic that we should all read at least once. If you haven’t already read it, I highly suggest you do.

Rating: 5/5

The Da Vinci Code

the da vinci code dan brown book review

Wow. I can’t believe it took me this long to read The Da Vinci Code. This book has been in my house for years, I had even forgotten about it. My mom bought it back when the movie was going to the released. Even after watching the movie, for some reason, it never caught my attention. That was until recently, when I found this copy while doing some rearrangements. I read the first few pages and was immediately hooked.

Here’s the book summary: While in Paris, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is awakened by a phone call during the night. The curator of the Louvre has been murdered inside the museum, his body covered in baffling symbols. As Langdon and gifted French cryptologist Sophie Neveu sort through the bizarre riddles, they are stunned to discover a trail of clues hidden in the works of Leonardo da Vinci—clues visible for all to see and yet ingeniously disguised by the painter. Even more startling, the late curator was involved in the Priory of Sion—a secret society whose members included Sir Isaac Newton, Victor Hugo, and Da Vinci—and he guarded a breathtaking historical secret. Unless Langdon and Neveu can decipher the labyrinthine puzzle—while avoiding the faceless adversary who shadows their every move—the explosive, ancient truth will be lost forever.

I think it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a thin line separating fact from fiction here. Dan Brown chose a conspiracy theory to elaborate on the entire plot. Most of the references mentioned are true, it’s evident that the author did previous research. However, it’s also true that he made adjustments so they can fit the story. So basically, this book should be taken for what it is: fiction.

Putting aside all controversies, it was an engaging, fast-paced mystery. The plot undergoes so many unexpected turns, it will leave you gasping until the very end — where all the puzzle pieces finally come together. Even though I’ve seen the movie more than once, I don’t recall that much from it. So I was taken by surprise with most of the events that occurred in the book. Now that I’m done, I’ll definitely be rewatching it soon.

It’s written in third person, and while Robert Langdon is the protagonist, we also witness the perspective of other characters which makes it more interesting and easier to understand. While the prose itself is not outstanding, Dan Brown did a great job at writing intermittent cliff hangers that were resolved in later chapters.

Anyway, this book makes me want to book a flight to Paris and visit the Louvre Museum ASAP! Also, Tom Hanks fits perfectly the role of Langdon.

Rating: 4/5  

Women Who Run With The Wolves

women who run with the wolves clarissa pinkola estes book review

I can’t even begin to describe this book in a way that does it justice. It can be intimidating at first, especially since Jungian psychology can be a bit off/weird. I highly suggest you look up who Carl Jung was so you can have a better understanding of the points made by the author. Another suggestion is to keep an open mind while reading this book, as not everything is meant to be taken literally. 

The purpose of the book is to explore fairy tales or stories by breaking them down into parts. Each one of the elements represents a part of a woman’s psyche and Pinkola does a wonderful at analyzing each deeply. 

Just a brief FYI, the term psyche means human soul, mind, or spirit. Therefore, psychology initially was defined as the study of the soul. 

It contains a total of 16 chapters, these are some of the stories that were studied:

  • The Wolf Woman (La Loba)
  • Bluebeard
  • Vasalia the Wise
  • Manawee
  • Skeleton Woman
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • The Red Shoes
  • Sealskin, Soulskin
  • La Llorona
  • The Little Match Girl
  • The Crescent Moon Bear
  • The Handless Maiden
Continue reading “Women Who Run With The Wolves”