by Meg Wolitzer

Overview - Entertainment Weekly s Best YA Book of 2014
TIME magazine Top YA of 2014
"Wolitzer has imagined a world for young readers that celebrates the sacred, transcendentpower of reading and writing ." The New York Times Book Review
There s a place where the lost go to be found.

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More About Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Entertainment Weekly s Best YA Book of 2014
TIME magazine Top YA of 2014
"Wolitzer has imagined a world for young readers thatcelebrates the sacred, transcendentpower of reading and writing." The New York Times Book Review
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."

  • ISBN-13: 9780525423058
  • ISBN-10: 0525423052
  • Publisher: Dutton Books
  • Publish Date: September 2014
  • Page Count: 266
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-17
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.75 pounds

Related Categories

Books > > Social Themes - Depression

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-07-07
  • Reviewer: Staff

When 10th grader Jam Gallahue meets British exchange student Reeve Maxfield, she fees like she finally understands love, and when she loses him, she can’t get over it. Her grief eventually lands her at the Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school for “emotionally fragile, highly intelligent” teenagers. There, she’s selected for Special Topics in English, a legendary class whose eccentric teacher handpicks her students and gives out journals that, Jam learns, seem to have the ability to take students back to their lives before the disasters that changed them. Making her YA debut, acclaimed author Wolitzer writes crisply and sometimes humorously about sadness, guilt, and anger—Jam’s fellow students each have lines that divide their lives into before and after, and all of them need to move forward. Jam’s class is studying Sylvia Plath, and Wolitzer weaves her life and work into the story with a light hand. Some of this lightness is missing at the end, when Jam reflects how the journals saved her and her classmates, but this is otherwise a strong, original book. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Sept.)

BookPage Reviews

Out of a bad dream

BookPage Teen Top Pick, October 2014

Following the success of her best-selling adult novel The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer brings her considerable talents to her first young adult title, Belzhar. Wolitzer returns to a subject that occupied her as a senior in college, when she was completing her first novel: the poet Sylvia Plath.

“Big changes happen to young people when no adults are around,” notes Wolitzer, and that is certainly true for Jam Gallahue and the other students in Mrs. Quenell’s Special Topics in English class at The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for “emotionally fragile and highly intelligent teens.” It’s a last resort for Jam, who fiercely loved British exchange student Reeve Maxfield for 41 days, and has been unable to recover from his death.

Jam and the other students don’t know why they’ve been selected for Mrs. Quenell’s class. And they certainly don’t know what to make of the antique journals she hands out, along with the assignment to write in them twice a week. Even more puzzling is their teacher’s instruction to “look out for one another.” But soon after beginning her journal, Jam has no choice but to turn to her classmates for support, because what she experiences while writing is both frightening and exciting. The journals have the power to transport them into a world of the past—a world they call Belzhar, after Plath’s most famous work, The Bell Jar.

Enlivened by humor, memorable characters and a page-turning mystery only revealed in its final pages, Belzhar explores the role of trauma in young lives. Fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars need wait no longer for another novel to capture their hearts and minds.


This article was originally published in the October 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

BAM Customer Reviews