Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer: Book review

Book title/ Author: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Publisher/ Year: September 30th 2014 Dutton Children's
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: No
Pages: 352
Source/ Format: Netgalley || egalley
(Thanks Netgalley/ Dutton Childrens!)
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

*This review may contain spoilers!*


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.

My review

I found myself being immediately pulled into the world of Belzhar right from the prologue and it became quite hard for me to put the book down. While I didn't love this book, I only liked it, I still admire the fact that Meg managed to suck me in to the story. I felt really comfortable and at home with Meg's style of writing in particular and I flew through the book because of this.

The whole idea of Belzhar on the whole was what first intrigued me and I did enjoy reading about it in further detail within the book. I liked reading the part where Jam made up the word, because I always like the part in the book when you finally understand why the book is called what it is.

It was really interesting to read about each of the 5 pupils' stories , as it helped me to understand why they were picked for Special Topics. I have to say that my opinion of Jam changed quite a bit when I read about her final trip to Belzhar. I am in no way annoyed at Jam for having to create this alternate scenario to protect herself, but I do feel quite deceived by the author for making me believe one thing for most of the story and the truth turned out to be something completely different. Although what Jam had to go through was devastating, I do think she was a bit quick to say she loved someone after only knowing them for 41 days.

I found it quite hard to read the truth about Jam's situation because she seemed really obsessed about Reeve even when he made it pretty clear that he didn't want anything to do with her. Even though my opinion of Jam changed when I read about her final trip to Belzhar, I gained a lot of respect for her when I read about what she did for Sierra's family. 

Shock is an understatement to what I felt when I read about Sierra. I kept reading until the very end in the hope that I would find out what would happen to her. She was my favourite out of all the Special Topics pupils because of her sincerity and her devotion to finding her brother.

The ending of the story was satisfactory; nothing more, nothing less.

All in all, I think if you really enjoyed reading The Bell Jar, or you want to support a book that deals with the issue of mental illness, then this might be the book for you.



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