January 26, 2015
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
2014 Penguin Young Readers Group
Finished on December 18, 2014
Rating: 2.5/5 (Fair)
"Wolitzer has imagined a world for young readers that celebrates the sacred, transcendent power of reading and writing." —The New York Times Book Review
A PW Best Book of 2014
There’s a place where the lost go to be found.
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.
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.
It’s always helpful, as a bookseller, to have a few new teen books read before the holidays. After reading several glowing reviews for Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar, I decided to give it a try. I was immediately drawn into the story, but never got that magical feeling you get when reading a great novel. I grew tired of the drama between Jam and Reeve, in their newly discovered world, and I only continued reading out of simple curiosity. I also didn’t care for the plot twist at the end of the novel, which left me feeling somewhat manipulated.
There are many readers (young and old) who loved this book but, unfortunately, I am not one of them. The lack of character development, the unbelievable dialogue, and the feeble attempt at magical realism left me cold and disappointed. I also recently listened to a large portion of Wolitzer’s novel, The Interestings, but after several hours I decided to call it quits, even after giving it a second chance when the first time didn’t grab me. It may be safe to say that this author isn’t for me.