Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (TBR Challenge #3)

This is an ARC that I was lucky enough to pick up last summer at BEA.  I could have sworn I'd met the author, but it's not autographed and I don't have a picture with her.  :-(  I finally got back around to it in order to work on my TBR Pile Challenge.  It was definitely an interesting read.  I knew there would be some kind of big reveal at the end, but I didn't figure out what the twist was going to be, and I feel like it was a really good one.  Don't worry, I won't give it away!

The main character is Jam Gallahue.  Jam has just been sent to a special school called The Wooden Barn.  This is a boarding school for teens with emotional problems.  Jam is there because she lost her British foreign exchange student boyfriend.  Now, we don't know till the very end how she lost him.  So you'll speculate until the very end.  Jam is one of only a few students selected to be in a special honors English class.  In this class they are given journals to write in as the study an author, and this semester the author is Sylvia Plath.  The title of this book, Belzhar, is pronounced basically like the name of Plath's book, The Bell Jar.  But what Belzhar is in the book is kind of a different dimension, one where Jam and her friends in the class get to go and things are like they were before whatever their big traumatic event was.  In Jam's world, her boyfriend Reeve is there, and they get to spend every time together.  One girl who is now paralyzed gets to run and walk, and use her legs again.  Another person in the class gets to go back and spend time with her brother before he disappeared.  While they are in this other dimension, they write five pages in their journal.  They have figured out that by the end of the class, they will have written on every page in their journal.  And when they reach the final time? Well now they must come to terms with this big event, and they must decide how they will go on to live their lives. Will they continue to let whatever happened to them define the rest of their lives, will they choose to try to keep the wonderful times in this world, or will they move on and give themselves another chance?

I love when we learn about all the other students' past experiences, and I love the ways their final journal entry affects them.  And the way they choose, some are very emotional, and again, I have to say wow at the twist in what really happened with Jam's boyfriend.

A good read, pick it up if it sparks your interest!