Book Review: The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY | F. Scott Fitzgerald
09.30.2004 (first published 1925) | Scribner Classic
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Nick Carraway has just moved East to start a new life in the New York suburb of West Egg. He quickly finds that most things in New York are out of his economic status and settles on a tiny home wedged between mansions. Nick has been through the war and simply wants to make a new name for himself. Despite his desire to leave his hometown in the past, he accepts an invitation to his cousin, Daisy Buchanan’s nearby home, which she shares with her husband, Tom, and their daughter. It soon becomes obvious that Daisy and Tom live a life well above Nick’s financial means, Tom has a mistress, and their marriage is not as picturesque as they would have their guests believe.

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So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

While Nick attempts to acclimate to his new environment and his relatives, he quickly finds his neighbor to be the most popular man in the area. Jay Gatsby can throw a party like no other. People flock to his gatherings, including those who have never received an invitation. Rumors fly from guest to guest about who Gatsby is, where he came from, and how he got to be so wealthy and well-known. Nick is soon swept in to Gatsby’s confidence and discovers that what’s on the outside, doesn’t always match the layers underneath. What’s the truth about this mysterious man?

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I couldn’t forgive him or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. It was all very careless and confused. They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

F. Scott Fitzgerald lights the pages of THE GREAT GATSBY up with all the glitz and glamour that made the roaring 20’s so fabulous. However, he doesn’t let the glitter fool the reader and delicately unmasks each of the main characters in this tale until we’re staring at the truth. Fitzgerald, who was a man of this time, understands all the “flaws” one must keep under wraps and portrays them through Nick, Daisy, Tom, and Gatsby. This novel is more than just the tale of a love triangle, but also the exploration of how someone can lie to themselves until they believe that they are indeed happy. These facades we build around ourselves are delicate and easily shattered, which Fitzgerald so clearly illustrates within these pages. I still remember reading THE GREAT GATSBY for the first time in high school and thinking what a great story it was, but rereading it over the years as an adult, I find myself picking up on many more subtle nuances that make me love the book even more.

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