Belzhar

Meg Wolitzer. Dutton, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-42305-8
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.)
Reviewed on: 07/07/2014
Release date: 09/30/2014
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