"Unfortunately, there's no getting around it: people have to work for their happiness. We go into battle everyday, and we have to work to be happy. It just isn't handed over to us, as much as we wish it was."
Night Swimming by Robin Schwarz is about a woman who is given a year to live, and realizing she hasn't really lived at all, decides to rob a bank and move to California. While it has all the ingredients to the average chick-lit: an overweight woman out on a journey of self-discovery who finds romance and acceptance along the way, there still is more to it. It's about living life and letting go of your past in order to cherish what little time you have in the present. I mean sure, we'd all be able to cherish the present a little bit more if we had 2 million dollars and the guts to change our identity and move across the country. Sure, it might not evoke world peace, or win a Pulitzer Prize, but if you want to read a story about a woman living the life she always wanted, while you lay out on the beach drinking some fruity drink with an umbrella, then this is your book.
Switching from the feel-good empowerment ride of Night Swimming to the ultra dark novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. This one I'm sure a lot of you have already read. I, myself, had already read it once before after I was given it as a present for my 19th birthday from my friend Taryn. But this time reading it was nothing like the first time I read it. I don't think I really grasped and connected with it the first time around, because I just don't think I was ready for it. This time it was like reading it with a new pair of eyes. Everything that has happened in the 5 years since first reading it made me identify so much more with Esther. Sure, I never tried to commit suicide, or got shock treatments, or got admitted into an asylum, but I still understood where she was coming from and on a level, how she felt. Like when she went to see her psychiatrist for the first time and him asking her if she could tell him what she thought was wrong, as if nothing was really wrong, but she only thought was wrong. "I had imagined a kind, ugly, intuitive man looking up and say, 'Ah!' in an encouraging way, as if he could see something I couldn't, and then I would find words to tell him how I was so scared, as if I were being stuffed farther and farther into a black, airless sack with no way out." How when you feel so isolated and hopeless and all you want is for some doctor to be able to just look at you and know what's wrong and what will help, and that's just not the case. And knowing, while reading, that the majority of the story mirrors Plath's own life makes you even more sympathetic to Esther, knowing that Plath was writing with true emotion from first-hand experience. It's just an interesting insight into someone's nervous breakdown that will stay with me for awhile.
Have you guys read either of these? What did you think? What books did you read in May?