by Meg Wolitzer
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (September 30, 2014)
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If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.
She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, signed up for an exclusive, supposedly life-changing class called Special Topics in English that focuses—only and entirely—on the works of Sylvia Plath.
But life isn’t fair. Reeve has been gone for almost a year and Jam is still mourning.
When a journal-writing assignment leads Jam into a mysterious other world she and her classmates call Belzhar, she discovers a realm where the untainted past is restored, and she can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But, as the pages of her journal begin to fill up, Jam must to confront hidden truths and ultimately decide what she’s willing to sacrifice to reclaim her loss.
I know you talk a lot about The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath in you, and even though, I haven't read it (shh! I plan on getting to it...eventually), I loved you. You were inspiring, thought-provoking, and shocking, to say the least.
But what are you about? Well, your main character, Jam, lost her boyfriend about a year ago, and ever since has basically gone off the deep end, so her parents send her to this 'rehab' school called The Wooden Barn, where she is put in a Special Topics class for English with only four other students. What's weird about this class is that the teacher only picks a few students to participate each year and they study one author for the entire semester. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, other than that, the class is pretty hush, hush and a pretty big deal. Jam and the other four students have all had an extremely traumatic experience in life, and the teacher has them write in journals, but what happens when they write in those journals? Well, I'll keep it hush, hush too, because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but seriously, it's pretty cray cray.
Jam was an awesome character. I loved reading from her POV and getting inside her head. I could hardly stand putting you down, because I was dying to find out what exactly killed her boyfriend. I was not expecting what actually happened. My mind = BLOWN. As for the other characters, I really liked Casey the most. She was a fun girl and it killed me reading what happened to her. The others stories are pretty awful too though. All five students really connect throughout the semester and what they each go through, and it was interesting to watch them all become the best of friends despite their rough experiences.
Honestly, Belzhar, you're extremely hard to write a review for, because I just don't want to give anything away. I'm not a spoiler type of person. All I can say is that you're a book that shouldn't be missed. You're a quick read, but not any less profound despite your small size. You enraptured me, and made me think about a lot of things. Because of you, I'll be picking up The Bell Jar from the store very soon. I look forward to what your author, Meg Wolitzer, pens next, because I'm sure it will be just as awesome as you. By the way, I totally ship the couples that pop up throughout the semester. THEY ARE ADORBS. There may be a little PG-13 action, and a few mentions of drugs/cuss words inside your pages, but I think they made these teenager's lives more realistic than it would have if you wouldn't have had them. FOUR STARS TO YOU, BELZHAR. You rocked!!
Still thinking about you days after closing you for the last time,