It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 7/20/15
This week I’ve dipped into classic books. Much to my surprise, I also found a good classic and ya lit pairing about mental disorders. Check out Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers to see more IMWAYR posts.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte adapted by Betty Wright
While searching the children’s section with her kids in the library, my friend found an entire shelf of abridged classic books. I’m so thankful she stumbled across these gems! I’d rather spend one day (or rather one lunch hour) reading a classic book than a whole month on one book I may or may not enjoy. Last summer I only read classic novels to prepare for my Classic American and European Novels course that fall. Unfortunately, this meant that I spent weeks only to finish one novel. After that experience I decided to read abridged or graphic novel adaptations of classics.
Less than 100 pages, the book captivated me with a no-nonsense approach and beautiful, full-color illustrations. Although I didn’t like any character in Wuthering Heights, I liked the book. I found it entertaining to see how the characters used their children as pawns in their own game of life.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte adapted by Diana Stewart
This is another abridged classic from the same shelf in the library. I’m thankful I only read 48 pages of this book because I did not like it. I enjoyed the big plot twist, but other than that it was too similar to Pride and Prejudice, another classic I don’t enjoy. Simply put, I found the love story boring.
So if anyone asks me if I’ve read the Bronte sisters, I will reply confidently, “Yes.”
Mosquitoland by David Arnold
This young adult book felt like a bit like I’ll Give You the Sun, but taken down a few notches. While it did not have an overdose of mini metaphors, it did have a similar quality and style of writing.
Mim decides to leave on a Greyhound bus to see her mother, states away. Her journey is continually interrupted and she learns a lot about herself, her parents, and her new friends she meets along the way.
I love the bits of mystery that followed the plotline. We don’t outright know who Mim is, nor do we know the actual situation between her parents. However, the biggest mystery is who Mim writes to; who is Iz?
The book solved each mini mystery and wrapped it up in a nice package for the reader, although we don’t know for sure how all of the relationships play out. Maybe a sequel is in the works? Even if a second book isn’t developed, I liked it. Mental illness is addressed in several ways and I couldn’t help but like Mim.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I will never forget when I read the line, “I eat men like air” in Sylvia Plath’s Lady Lazarus. Ever since then, I have planned on reading more from her and I finally got around to reading The Bell Jar. The story depicts a young woman who slowly loses her mind and is sent to an insane asylum.
Plath hooks readers from the first scene in New York and then gradually shows the breakdown of Esther’s mental stability, or so Esther thinks. Slowly, Esther turns from a normal college girl to someone without hope. Because I followed her first person account through the events leading to her institutionalization, I understood why Esther went insane and became suicidal. The carefully-crafted gaps in the plot reflect Esther’s insanity and put readers in her mind.
Mosquitoland and The Bell Jar address similar themes of mental disorders and society’s view of people who have these disorders. The pairing would be great for high schoolers and would raise interesting questions and observations.
Although I have never been depressed or suicidal, I enjoy reading books about mental disorders because I have students who feel like the characters in these books. If I can understand what they’re feeling I can better help them.