Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Brontë

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Young Adult

Jane Eyre
: the answer to your Twilight troubles

As I write this, the final (or first part of the final) movie in the Twilight series just came out. In light of that event, I’d like to take this opportunity to recommend Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. It’s a great book in general, but it also has the advantage of appealing to essentially the same demographic as Twilight.

Eyre is enough of a classic that we often don’t think about it in terms of YA lit, but it is an amazing book for teens. Full of pent up emotions, dark secrets, and foreboding scenery, it’s very difficult not to enjoy this book.

As the title suggests, the book is the story of one Jane Eyre, a plucky orphan who is sent to a terrible boarding school by her unloving aunt.

The first few years that Jane attends Lowood, the students are treated terribly, being given inadequate nutrition and cold rooms. Eventually, typhus breaks out and many of the students die.

Brontë creates a poignant enough narrative for Jane’s younger years, but the real drama of the book comes later, after Jane has graduated. Jane becomes a governess and goes to Thornfield Manor to tend the ward of the brooding and ugly (but wealthy!) Mr. Rochester.

This is where the real romance and mysteries begin.

Is Jane in love with her dark and brooding employer? Is he in love with her? And what exactly is he hiding in the attic?

Before a happy ending is reached, dark secrets will be revealed, characters will die, and near-starvations will occur. Oh, and there’s a lot of stormy weather and windswept scenery.

Now, I haven’t read The Twilight series, but the complaint I hear about them most often is that the female lead has no agency. Jane Eyre, on the other hand, is, in her own words, an independent woman. True, for a good part of the book she has little power, but that never stops her from standing up for her own beliefs and advocating on her own behalf. (Indeed, she is actually quite outspoken for her time.)

In short, whether you liked the Twilight series and are looking for another harrowing romance or you just want your child to read something besides the Twilight series, Jane Eyre is a great choice.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

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