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#VelshiBannedBookClub: 'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath


There is a reason it is a modern classic and an enduring rite of passage for generations of women. Emily Van Duyne, Plath expert and author of the upcoming book “Loving Sylvia Plath” explains that the book grows with you. “I read the book for the first time when I was 14 and I thought ‘this is so strange and sad’ and then I read it again when I was struggling with depression and I felt like Plath was telling my story.” On the page, “The Bell Jar” tells Esther Greenwood’s story. Esther, a high-achieving college student from Massachusetts, has been selected to spend a summer in New York City working at the prestigious “Ladies Day” magazine. Esther is confronted with the artifice and isolation of city life, the daunting prospect of 1950s motherhood, and an increasingly debilitating depression. Upon returning to her small suburban town, she succumbs to her struggle with mental health. “The Bell Jar” culminates with Esther’s suicide attempt and then life-saving shock therapy at a mental institution. Off the page, “The Bell Jar” is Sylvia Plath’s story.