Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Title: Belzhar
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date: October 1st 2014
Part of A Series?: Standalone
I Got A Copy Through: Guardian Children's Website

Blurb Description: 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, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.


“I was sent here because of a boy. His name was Reeve Maxfield, and I loved him and then he died, and almost a year passed and no one knew what to do with me.”

Intriguing, right? A school for ‘emotionally fragile, highly intelligent’ children called The Wooden Barn. A Special English class that is rumoured to have changed the lives of many for the better. A group with numerous problems. And a special place where they all feel better, and learn to face their problems.

An imaginary one world, for anyone but them, called Belzhar. It’s the Code name for Bell Jar, renowned author Sylvia Plath’s novel that this group is reading in their English class in which their teacher gives them the journals that will transport them to their special places.

I absolutely loved the idea. Five heart-breaking stories, and a place where it all gets better. But, as soon as I started reading it, Belzhar started disappointing me. I simply couldn’t feel the chemistry between Reeve and Jam, and for this whole novel to be based on their unrequited love, I simply couldn’t go on. Forty one days of awkward flirting, and Jam is left depressed for a year? The facts just didn’t add up.

But then I gave Belzhar another try. And while this time it was better, as I learned to focus on other problems rather than just Jam’s, the book got to me and at times, I simply had to put it down with the intensity of it all.

But never Jam. I thought I could forget all about her, and her numerous silly endeavours, but then, the finale was her story. The whole story. Which made me want to shake her up and ask her “Why, Jam, WHY?”

All in all, while I didn’t get the protagonist and her story line AT ALL, the other teens whose stories were being told, made it an extremely worthwhile read!

3.5 Stars! 

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