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.
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.– Goodreads
I finished this book last week and I’m still confused about it. This very rarely happens. I tend to finish a book and have a very firm opinion on the book. I sent a text message after reading this and went “Belzhar..I still don’t know.” My goodreads friends are polarized about it. Some thought it was the best book of the year and others can’t believe it got published. I continue to be firmly in the middle camp of I…I just don’t know.
The bones of the story are solid. Jam’s life isn’t remotely fair. Her British boyfriend, Reeve is dead and her parents have sent her to The Wooden Barn, the boarding school that is supposed to save her. What happens instead is that Jam is sent to Special Topics with a handful of her classmates and her life is forever changed. Part of their assignment is to write in this journal twice a week for the semester, that’s all. Just write. What happens though when they write is that they are taken to a different world. A happier world almost, one that they call Belzhar. In Belzhar, everything is different. It’s safe in a way and the person is in an alternative universe and they often become happier there. What the group finds out is the more time they spend in Belzhar (everyone has their own) is not everything is how it seems and quickly things can unravel. Including Jam’s life.
Near the end comes a twist bout Belzhar, and Jam’s life, it is understandably one that I can’t truly discuss but I will say that I wasn’t shocked. I saw it coming, and if I’m being honest with you, I rarely see twists coming and this one didn’t shock me at all. I’m not sure if it was Wolitzer’s writing, or the book in general but nothing about it particularly worked for me. It’s not a bad book persay, but it’s one that when I was asked to describe it to a friend I sat there going “Um…well..you see” and my friend stared at me because rarely am I at a loss of words when it comes to a book. Or any book.