Here’s a thought-provoking question. How did you figure out who you are? Was it through friends, or family, or a hobby? Or, have you still not figured it out? Either way, it is my belief that almost everyone endures a stretch of time where they are completely lost and do not have the slightest idea who they are. To be honest, I still haven’t figured out exactly who I am going to turn out to be, and maybe you haven’t, either. Regardless, here are a few books you should read to help you get a better understanding of your own identity.
The Awakening explores one woman’s urge to live as she truly is. This conflicts with the values of her family and friends, while toying with her own emotions and morals. The Awakening led to me to deeper self-discovery because of how much I identified with Edna Pontillier, the novel’s main character. I’ve always felt that women are held to an impossible standard and are often viewed as immoral, in the event they do not walk the straight and narrow. The Awakening taught me that I can be more than a homemaker. I have the potential to do anything I set my mind to.
The DivergentMovie Franchise is already wildly popular, but the movies do not do the books justice. In case you didn’t already know, Divergent tells the story of Tris, who lives in a faction-based society where she must choose her life’s path as a teenager. After taking an aptitude test that is supposed to tell Tris what faction to choose, she discovers she can identify with several factions, which makes her divergent. Divergent helped me to discover myself because I could relate so closely with Tris’s character. Although I am obviously not in the middle of fighting a post-apocalyptic war, I can find a few major parallels between our society and hers. Way to go, Veronica Roth. You slay.
My First Five Husbands (and the Ones Who Got Away)
Don’t tell me you’ve never heard of this one? Really? Even though this one probably hasn’t caught your eye before, I am begging you to read it. This is the autobiography of Rue McLanahan, AKA Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls. McLanahan delivers her life’s story through laughter, and I can guarantee that you do not want to miss this one. I read My First Five when I was going through a particularly rough patch in my life, and when I read it, I just felt like I was having a conversation with somebody who understood.
So B. It
This book absolutely broke my heart, while simultaneously making me the happiest person ever. So B. It tells the extremely odd story of Heidi It, whose mother is mentally disabled. Heidi and her mother were found by her neighbor, Bernadette, therefore Heidi has no clue who she really is. After discovering clues to her identity, Heidi ventures out to her mother’s hometown, so she can find her and her mother’s true story. This one helped me find myself for obvious reasons. I read this my freshman year of high school, and I can remember feeling as if I were traveling to discover myself, too.
(Special thanks to Mrs.Jenny Martin for telling me to read this and for being the best teacher ever.)
The Bell Jar
Out of all of the hundreds of books I have read in my lifetime, The Bell Jar has had the greatest impact on me. Sylvia Plath beautifully goes through a span of two years in the shoes of Esther Greenwood, who is a freshman in college and is supposed to be having the time of her life while doing an internship in New York City. Esther is mildly depressed while away from home, but her sadness worsens upon returning home to find she did not make it into an elite writing class. Plath provides an all too real glimpse into the psyche of a suicidal woman in the mid-1940s. Esther’s journey portrays the way society often sweeps mental illness under the rug. The Bell Jar has shaped the way I perceive things, along with the way I behave. Plath’s writing, even her poetry and journals, teach so much about loving yourself, and it’s really comforting to read something like that, especially when you have no idea who you are.
The Opposite of Hallelujah
This was probably one of the oddest books I’ve ever read, but it was also one of my absolute favorites. The Opposite of Hallelujah is about Caro, who had once had a sister, named Hannah when she eight years old, but she moved away to become a nun. Flash forward eight years, Hannah comes home from the convent, and Caro realizes she has no idea who her sister is. Caro has an extremely hard time accepting her sister and the way her parents tiptoe around Hannah’s feelings, while they are oblivious to Caro’s heartbreak and need for attention. The Opposite of Hallelujah taught me a lot about empathy, acceptance, and self-love. I’m also just a huge fan of the author, Anna Jarzab, and her ability to tell it like it is.