When asked what my favorite book is, I often quickly answer with The Great Gatsby. I first read The Great Gatsby in 2009 in my 10th Grade English class and fell in love. I loved the description of the clothing and parties of the 1920s. I loved the characters, I thought the (spoiler alert!) unrequited love between Daisy and Gatsby was so romantic, and I felt heartbroken by the tragic ending nearly every character received.

Throughout the years, I have defended this novel from students who claim it is boring and adults who describe the characters as self-centered. They were, in my opinion, misunderstood. Recently, I realized I had not re-read The Great Gatsby in a long time and decided it was the perfect time to re-read. Wow, was I wrong.

Perhaps it is because I am now looking through the lens of someone who lived through a pandemic or the lens of being nearly 30—I am not sure what changed but something has and wow are these characters insufferable! Everyone is privileged, entitled, and whiny. What I once saw as romantic (buying a house with a view of Daisy’s dock) now seems creepy and manipulative. The characters who I once loved now seem like absolute trash people.

As I reflected on the way my thoughts on this book have changed, I thought about the importance of perspective and lived experiences. It gave me more insight into how my high school students might interpret things differently than I do and how important it is to bring multiple perspectives in as often as possible.

– Maggie Jones (Social Studies Teacher)