Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer...

How I Heard About It:  After reading The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer earlier this year, I was "interested" in reading other works by this author.  I listened to Belzhar on audio over the last couple of weeks and enjoyed it immensely.

What It Is About:  Jam has just arrived at the "Barn" which is a school for the emotionally fragile students.  She has lost her first boyfriend Reeve who is an exchange student from London.  All of the students that attend the Barn have had some sort of emotional challenge in their life.  During the first few days at her new school, Jam is assigned to a class called "Special Topics in English".  There are only five students in this class and the novel they are going to study this semester is The Bell Jar.  At first Jam isn't sure why she has been chosen for this "special and mysterious" class, but after a few class sessions, it becomes clear. Each student is given a journal and as they each sit down to write in the journal, they are "transported" to another time and place away from The Barn.  This time and place is connected to the incident that caused emotional damage for each of these five students.  As the students come to trust each other and start talking about these "journeys", they name this place they travel to Belzhar.  They must decide if they want to remain in Belzhar where life is easier, or confront their past and pain, and move on from it.

What I Thought Of It:  This was an incredible story.  I loved it from the minute the audio started to the minute it stopped.  I'm not much of a fantasy/magical reader, but it worked well for me in this novel.   I enjoyed how this story was a mix of realistic fiction and fantasy type time travel.  The five stories of the students in this class captivated my attention and were developed quite well.  Everything about this story worked and Wolitzer is a very talented writer.

Who Should Read It:  The Interestings is an adult novel and this one is geared toward the young adult reader.  After reading it, I know many adult readers that will enjoy this story as much as I did.  Young readers will also enjoy the story of Jam and the others at The Barn.  There are many themes and emotions throughout the novel that they will be able to relate to.  Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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