Teen Volunteer Review: The Great Gatsby

This summer, Boston Public Library's teen volunteer program has gone remote! As part of this program, local high schoolers will be sharing their thoughts on books, movies, and more on our blog. In today's post, Boston Latin School student Elizabeth Choi shares her thoughts on a classic: The Great Gatsby.

I expected to be blown away by what is considered to be one of the greatest novels of all time. This, along with my father’s declaration that The Great Gatsby was one of his favorite books in high school, raised my expectations for this classic too high -- similar to how Gatsby himself built up a dream around Daisy, who could not help but fall short of his cosmic visions.

The Great Gatsby was undoubtedly good. I liked Nick’s narration, Gatsby’s innocence, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s poetic, atmospheric passages. I also enjoyed how short it was. Thankfully, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece didn’t drag on. After my father’s insistence that it would make me appreciate the book so much more, I read his copy of CliffsNotes on Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby along with the actual text. Through it, I learned more about the 1920s, the author’s life, and some symbols and themes that I had not noticed, for which I am grateful.

I also enjoyed the book less because I had already seen Baz Luhrmann's 2013 film adaptation (The Great Gatsby) years ago. I was young enough that I didn’t protest against watching the movie before reading the book, yet old enough that I remembered the plot vividly. This reduced the effect of a few suspenseful paragraphs as well as the climax itself.

There’s nothing I would change about The Great Gatsby. It’s well-written, with an engaging plot and characters who move it along. I just wish I had read it before hearing previous opinions and watching the movie.