The Bell Jar is a hard book to read. In reading it, I felt like I was trapped in Esther's bell jar myself. Her words, so achingly real--almost certainly related to the book's semi-autobiographical nature--evoke the struggles of not only women but also any overachiever and any loner. Throughout the novel, we see how the bell jar encaged Esther and we see how slowly, very slowly, she lifts it off of herself. I think the reason I appreciated this book so much is that the problems Esther faced are problems I've faced, and although I'm better than Esther, I've felt so low sometimes I felt like breaking. She showed me that she wasn't crazy; there was nothing wrong with her besides these social circumstances that she just couldn't cope with, try as she might. I love reading books where I feel like the narrator expresses my thoughts in a more tangible and eloquent way (and Plath can write!) The only reason it wasn't perfect for me--although this rating may change upon more reflection--was that mental illness is, well, pretty boring. The repeated suicide attempts and the monotony of life in the asylums are not particularly gripping, but I understand their necessity to the story. I just wish I could read this story with Esther walking into her final interview with the psychiatrists and walking out of the bell jar, however, it is impossible to read that last page and then not remember Plath's suicide shortly after this book's publication. Because of this knowledge, instead of ending with a sense of hope, the book ends with the feeling that bell jar is forever, it always exists, floating right above our heads, ready to collapse upon us again.