Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 3, 2012
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Many teens are reluctant to read the intimidating books on their English class's reading list. Often they look for the shortest novels or the ones with the largest type. I've always argued against this, believing students should find a book that's stimulating and challenging, not just short and sweet. Enter Ethan Frome, just 90 pages, but a book that changed my outlook on reading forever.

Ethan Frome begins with an unknown narrator stranded in Starkfield, Massachusetts. He observes Ethan in town and notes how close to dead he seems. Slowly he comes to understand his story, which is explained in flashbacks.

Ethan was a young, idealistic man who hoped to become an engineer, but when his father died he returned to manage the family farm. Along the way he married a distant cousin, Zeena, to curb his loneliness. There is no love between them, and matters worsen when her cousin, Mattie, comes to live with them. She is young, vivacious, and beautiful, and they fall in love. Ethan's internal struggle provides most of the conflict. As a man driven by morals, he cannot divorce his wife, but his stifled dreams get the better of him.

What begins as a touching love story spirals into a tale of despair, a modern-day Romeo and Juliet. I was left spellbound, suddenly inspired. I believed in love and the power it holds. Within these 90 pages, Wharton transported me to dreary Starkfield in the late 1800s. With its rich symbolism and intricate imagery, Ethan Frome is a stunning piece of literature. Some find the classic dark and depressing, but it left me hopeful and wondering, what if things went right? We as teenagers romanticize love, and we are able to connect with all those who feel the swoons and pangs that love can cause.

So dust off the cover at your library and crack open the pages, and if you find yourself smiling by the end, there's also a movie starring Liam Neeson. Enjoy.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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