HIgh school student Jam Gallahue is still recovering from the tragic loss of her boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield, the adorable exchange student from Britain. It has been over a year since Reeve died and Jam is still stuck in her thoughts of kissing him in the library, or watching a funny movie together. Her depression and inability to move on is so deep, her parents feel they have no choice when they send her to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont for youth of similar struggles.
Jam is selected along with four other students to be in a class called Special Topics. An English class that turns out to be all about the works of Sylvia Plath. When the teacher hands each of the students a beautiful leather bond journal and encourages them to try to write something in them once or twice a week, Jam is certain that she will NOT be writing in a journal.
Yet one evening, Jam does decide to try to write a few lines in the book and when she does she finds herself whisked away, back to a time when she is with Reeve once again. While she fears she may be dreaming, his arms around her are all to real and when she comes back to the present, she finds she has written 5 pages in the journal. What is even more odd, Jam discovers that the other students in the Special Topics class had similar experiences, each going back to a time when things were right before their personal tragedy happened; and each coming back to find that 5 pages in their journal have been filled.
As the group begins to meet outside of class time to discuss their secret; they all wonder what will happen when they get to the end of the journal… and will that close the door to the past even if they are not ready to let go?
I LOVED this book. I loved the idea of a group of teens centered around a class talking about the literary works of Sylvia Plath. I thought the idea of the journals that give you a chance to go back to before things went wrong was brilliant; and the way this brought the group to open up to one another… seriously I want to just write…
GUSH! GUSH! GUSH!
I enjoyed this book on audio and Jorjeana Marie narrated well. I simply did not want to turn this book off! Incredibly well done and thought provoking! Love the title, love the characters…LOVE the book! While I thought the ending would be a bit more powerful (I had my own ideas of what might have been), it was still an amazing book that I would HIGHLY recommend is one of the best this reader has spent time with in 2014.
*I feel this book would make for a wonderful book club discussion… there are lots of what if’s in this one!
Because I want to be able to talk about this book in more detail I am dusting off the Spoiler Button and putting it in play. Please read (or listen to!) the book and then push the button and let’s talk Belzhar!
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 6 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Listening Library
- Audible.com Release Date: September 30, 2014
18 thoughts on “Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer – BEST of 2014”
Darn it, now I’m regretting not taking this book!
I was so impressed by it!
This wasn’t my favorite Wolitzer, but I really enjoyed it! I think it captured being a teen really well.
That is the question I forgot to ask! I want to read something else by her. Any suggestions?
Wow. Now I’ll have to read this or, more likely, listen.
Oh yes! Listen to it Leslie 😀
I loved this one, too, giving it five stars, and this is most amazing (to me) because I don’t usually read or enjoy YA books. This year has been an exception for me, with several really good ones that surprised me.
Books about kids with problems, or illnesses (The Fault in Our Stars) are always going to appeal to me.
Glad you loved it too… I was thinking maybe it just resonated with me for whatever reason 😀
I’m one of the few people who really did not like The Interestings by Wolitzer, so I’ve been leery of picking this up. Your review has helped me decide that perhaps I should give this author another shot.
And I want to read something else by her… but what? 😛
I listened to an audio sample yesterday and loved the narration… could be next for me!
I love a good audio book. I am going to look for it at the library today. Thanks!
I hope you do! I really really enjoyed it. 🙂
I’ve read some pretty fabulous reviews of this one. I hope to get to it soon! Once I do, I’ll definitely come back and talk spoilers with you 😉
I had this one on my TBR list, then took if off after some so-so reviews, and have now read some glowing reviews, so am thinking of adding it back on. Thank you for the big red spoiler button…I will check back if I do end up reading it!
I just recently listened to Belzhar, too, and also enjoyed it. I’m not always a fan of magical realism but I thought Wolitzer balanced the reality and supernatural well. And of course, what book lover/writer doesn’t love the idea that reading and writing can heal?
Glad you enjoyed it so much!
Book By Book