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Gatsby, Hawthorne, and Being Sixteen

By Tricia Ebarvia

One of the last books I read in 2014 was Gabrielle Levin’s delightful novel, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  At one point, the main character—a somewhat odd and sometimes churlish bookseller named A.J. Fikry—tells his daughter to remember that “the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.”  He adds, “Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time.”

Many years ago when I first read The Great Gatsby in high school, I didn’t like it very much. I remember listening to a classmate discuss how much she loved the book. “Gatsby,” she gushed, “The way he could change his entire life to win Daisy over? It’s soooo romantic.” I didn’t get it. Read more