Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Belzhar / Book Review

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Rating «««
Jamaica -or Jam as everyone calls her- had suffered a terrible lost, and for that she was sent to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont which specializes in difficult cases.
Now she has to share room with weird DJ, who suffers from an eating disorder, and is totally jealous when she discovers that Jam was signed to an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English, for which she had been applying to get a spot in it, but had been rejected.
There are other 4 students in the same class, Sierra, Casey, Marc and Griffin, every one with a story to tell, and a trauma to overcome.
Their professor, an old lady who is at the same time interesting and mysterious decided that the theme of the semester was going to be Sylvia Plath and gave them each a copy of Bell Jar, and also a leather journal in which they must write twice per week.
Jam is not so sure about the class, she enjoys Sylvia’s writing, and feels that she really understands about love and lost, but when she start writing in her journal, she’s transported to a different reality in which Reeve, her dead boyfriend is there for her.

My thoughts:
First I want to say that the idea in general was quite interesting, the study of one author per semester, an author that in some way would help these kids in particular, because even when at the beginning we don’t know exactly what’s the problem with them, the more you read the more you know that they had suffered some lost.
The use of the journals to get access to this alternate world that they call Belzhar I thought it was pretty interesting, it reminded me a little bit of Tom Riddle’s diary and how it only showed his memories, well, in this case it only showed the moment before the kids’ life was ruined.
My major problem was that I didn’t feel a connection with Jam, I didn’t trust her, and I must say that the more I read I discovered why, she wasn’t a reliable narrator.
My problem with the rest of the characters were that they weren’t an important part of the story, I feel like I didn’t have the chance to know them well, because when they were telling their story was more like listing facts that actually feel their emotions, except for maybe Griffin, but even him, it was difficult to feel sorry for them.
I like the fact that the story as strange as it was gave a twist on it, because certainly I wasn’t expecting the true story about Jam, I imagined something darker, so it was a little bit disappointing, but I must confess that I was surprised, even when it wasn’t in a good way.

I also enjoyed the fact that the book shows in a small level mental problems, and the way the kids must face them, how they must take responsibility for their acts and overcome their trauma.

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