Author: Meg Wolitzer
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: September 30, 2014
Page Count: 264
Age Range: 12+
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 certainty 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.
Okay so I was recommended this book so many times but I never actually picked it up until about a week ago. I had read the synopsis but I was never drew to it. Jam just seemed so obsessed with her boyfriend and I am not a fan of girls whose whole life revolves around their significant others. However, I finally gave in an read it. Let me tell you what I thought...
So I was not a fan of the book until about half way in. My first thoughts on Jam carried through the beginning of the novel. She did not understand why she was at the Wooden Barn, even though she was SO OBSESSED with Reeve. It was kind of sad, and I was hoping she would get help. By the middle of the novel once she started to fit in more with the Special Topics class is when I started to enjoy it.
I thought that Wolitzer really has a grand imagination. The plot of the novel may seem pretty simple but as you read the book, you see all the additions that Wolitzer added to the plot that made it more complex. For example, the journals. We know that Jam will get better but we do not know why. Maybe it was a great teacher? Or a realization while reading? Or her peers in class? However, it was none of the above. Wolitzer weaves in some fantasy elements with the journals. Every time one of the Special Topics students wrote in the journal, they were transported to an area where they could see the reason they were at the Wooden Barn. For Jam, this was Reeve. I was initially surprised at this turn of events, but with every visit, I got more comfortable with the idea. However, we never know how this visitation works which is one of the problems I have with the novel. I wanted an explanation, but the teacher, Mrs. Quenell, did not have one to give.
I think one of my biggest problems with the novel, especially in the beginning, was the pace. I was always waiting for something to happen that would make me want to keep reading. I felt that everything that was going on was just another event. Yes, it added to the plot, but I was not really interested. I think this was because I was not connected to any of the characters. I think the reason why I like some of my favorite books is because I can connect and I am emotionally attached to the characters. For example, in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas I was absolutely obsessed with Caleana and wanted to be her.
Okay it may seem right now that I hated the book. This is not so. There were definite pros and cons, the cons that I have already explained. One thing I really enjoyed about Belzhar was the ending. I will not tell you what happened, sorry :( but I will tell you that it was not what I was expecting, but in a good way. It was one of those endings where I put down the book down when I ended and just stared at it. I was like "what just happened...."
Overall, this book was a little hard to get into but once you get towards the end it gets interesting. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a plot change :D
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Now, what do you think?
a Book Nerd