Book Review – Belzhar
October 24, 2014
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.
Meg Wolitzer is another author I had the opportunity to meet at Anderson’s Young Adult Literature Conference in September. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I had not yet read anything by Wolitzer, despite the fact that she was all over my “To Read” list on Goodreads. Belzhar is Wolitzer’s first foray into the Young Adult genre, and I think she does it with great success.
As a reader, I am always looking for a good balance between plot and character development. Wolitzer is able to achieve a great balance between the two in Belzhar (which the author made sure to emphasize was pronounced “bell-zhar” in her keynote speech). I fell in love with all of the characters that Wolitzer created, and I yearned for the story to continue once the book ended. Although the storyline isn’t necessarily something I would have gravitated to upon first glance, I was intrigued with the novelty of the underlying premise and drawn into the twists and turns along the way. I also was drawn to the setting that Wolitzer created – it strikes me as a place that many teens feel that they would fit in at some point in their life. The reader walks away with a strong sense of what it would be like to be at the Wooden Barn among the characters in the story.
I will definitely be checking out more Meg Wolitzer from the library soon (The Interestings has been on my radar for awhile). What books have you read by Wolitzer that you would recommend?