Kumon Staff Pick: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Recommended Reading List Title: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Grade/Kumon Level of Book: 10th-11th grade, Level K,5
Why do you personally enjoy this book?
Ethan Frome tells the story of the title character, his sickly wife, and her cousin who is brought on to assist in the Frome household. Wharton’s characters are well developed, and the feelings of each, ranging from excitement to desperation to frustration to unhappiness to helplessness, are palpable. The circumstances facing the characters often elicit varying reactions from the reader, confirming the literary artistry of this Pulitzer Prize-winning (and Nobel Prize-nominated) author.
Why do you think students would enjoy this book?
The narrator’s chance encounter with the title character, who is physically challenged, strikes up a curiosity and a noninvasive investigation of Frome’s past. Readers are likely to share the narrator’s interest and become as intrigued by Frome and his circumstances as the narrator himself.
What skills and/or values might students gain by reading this book?
Beginning in the first-person point of view of the nameless narrator, the majority of the novella is told in a third-person flashback, returning to the first person of the narrator for the final chapter. The shifts in narration exhibit the varied ways in which a story can be told, which are often contingent upon the objective of the author. Students will see how different points of view exhibit distinct perspectives. Symbolism is also an underlying aspect of Ethan Frome; students may pick up on the significance of the color red, the chill of winter, and a broken pickle dish, among other elements throughout the narrative. Both point of view and symbolism are introduced in Reading Level K, and this story provides powerful examples of each, reinforcing these concepts for students studying at this level.