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Book Reviews by NBPL Teens

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Review by Eric

Post Date:05/01/2022 9:00 am

the great gatsby book cover

The Great Gatsby is a historical fiction written by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. The novel takes place in New York City, during the Jazz Age in the 1920s when the United States is in unprecedented prosperity after the end of World War I, while crime and vice also breed against prohibition. The American dream had never seemed closer. Although named “The Great Gatsby”, the book follows the perspective of Nick Carraway, who came to New York from a well-to-do, middle-eastern family. Nick lives in the West Egg district of Long Island, where the newly rich resides. His neighbor is Jay Gatsby, who first appears as a mysterious man who throws ostentatious parties every week. Gatsby seems to pursue a romantic interest with Daisy Buchanan, who is from an old, wealthy family and is married to Tom Buchanan. 


Besides the fascinating story, which I will now stop talking about to avoid spoilers, I think one reason that makes The Great Gatsby a classic is its satire on the American society during the 1920s. As I previously mentioned, the Roaring Twenties was a period of tremendous economic prosperity as the United States emerges as the leading world power after  

World War I. Coupled with the rapid growth of new technologies such as automobiles, a huge market for consumer goods was created. Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the characters, who relentlessly pursued wealth and luxury, seems to be a criticism of the moral and spiritual emptiness of opulence and mass consumerism, while the story’s ending also expresses disapproval of the hopes of social mobility and the American dream. What made The Great Gatsby even more iconic of this era, though Fitzgerald couldn’t have predicted its coming, was the Great Depression, the greatest economic recession 4 years after the book’s publication that confirmed Fitzgerald’s worrying insight. 


The other part of the book’s charm is Fitzgerald’s unique way of composition. The style of the book is restrained and subdued, employing many extended metaphors, imagery, and poetic language. When I was reading the book, many times was I amazed at how beautiful of a scene Fitzgerald creates with the special way he writes. My personal favorite part was the ending of the book, but because I want to preserve it for the readers to explore, I am going to pull an example from somewhere else: “Now it was a cool night with that mysterious excitement in it which comes at the two changes of the year. The quiet lights in the houses were humming out into the darkness and there was a stir and bustle among the stars.” I also recommend sometimes reading out loud to fully appreciate the poetic rhythm of the book. 

One thing about The Great Gatsby I do not always like, however, is still Fitzgerald’s style. Although I appreciate the beauty and poeticness of the language, using that in metaphors and imageries can sometimes make it a little too confusing to the readers. For that reason also is why I would recommend this book to high school students and above. It is a rather short novel so I would also recommend this book to those who are not the most avid readers. 


Check out the Great Gatsby from the Newport Beach Public Library! 

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