banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

BOOK REVIEW: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

| 17 October 2014 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Simon and Schuster
October 2014, $16.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




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.


The synopsis of this book intrigued me, and the good ratings on the author’s other books on Goodreads sealed the deal.

Even so, I was expecting it to be a bit of a tough read given the subject matter.

But this isn’t a story about wallowing, about staying stuck in the moments that we’ve lost, about no one else understanding our suffering. It’s a story about the friendship and camaraderie that come from people who do understand, about enjoying the good moments you’re offered even in the midst of suffering, and about learning to live again after loss.


Two things bothered me about this book, but didn’t detract too much from the overall story:

– The teacher selected teens she thought needed special help to get over traumatic situations. Five were chosen from the whole school, and one of the stories felt… rather weak compared to the rest of the group.
I have no doubt there would have been other teens who had experienced more profound loss, but I guess this was done in an effort to show how a variety of situations can knock people down for a while. I can’t fault the author’s thought process, I just think it could have been done a little better.

– The way the main character went on and on about her dead boyfriend, whom she knew for only a month and a half, but given the circumstances I can understand.
I think that element of the story might work better for teen readers, those who are in their first relationship, those who’ve never had to say goodbye before or had their heart broken.


It’s an interesting premise, executed well through a style of writing which was both poetic and appropriately “teen”. These elements combine to give the reader an easy yet intriguing story, with a punchy ending that will keep coming to mind for days after they turn the last page.


Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad