When Jam Gallahue is sent to The Wooden Barn – a therapy centre for teenagers – she feels like her world is ending yet again, she is being ripped away from her family; just like Reeve Maxfield was ripped away from her. She has been sent to this facsimile of a boarding school to get over her “trauma” but the last thing Jam wants to do is get over Reeve.
Her class schedule has her down for an exclusive course called Special Topics in English – and it is only during that class that Jam (along with fellow classmates) really begin to deal with their own personal grief.
I had wanted to read Belzhar for a long time and yes I will admit that I was entranced by the cover more than the blurb. However, once I read the blurb I was full of hope that the book would live up to the front and back cover.
It genuinely did.
I have never read a book by Meg Wolitzer before but I was utterly blown away by this story. The concept was so unusual but executed so very well. I had total belief that the events that took place in between these pages could happen. I fully immersed myself in the world at The Wooden Barn and I truly believed in the power of writing as a healing method (granted the last one was a long standing belief but it applies to this book too).
The gentle touches of magic realism were captivating. They weren’t oppressive or questionable and if anything helped lend a level of empathy to everyone’s individual story. It would be easy to just label this book as a coming of age drama in which the plights and teenage angst of certain individuals help the story move along. To do that though you would be completely trivialising what is in fact a rather impressive story.
It has made me want to read more of Wolitzer’s books.
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer is available now.