by Meg Wolitzer
Jam Gallahue is still devastated a year after the death of her boyfriend. At a loss for how to help her, Jam’s parents send her to The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont for “emotionally fragile, highly intelligent” teens. Here, Jam receives one of five highly coveted spots in an exclusive class, Special Topics in English. The class focuses on the works of one author each semester — Sylvia Plath for Jam and her classmates — and requires that students write in a special journal. Jam soon discovers that writing in the journal transports her to the time and place just before the terrible events that caused her depression and isolation. This surreal experience is shared by all of her classmates — each returning to that moment before their lives changed, a time when they felt content and safe. The class members begin to meet secretly to discuss their journaling experiences, which they clandestinely call “Belzhar” after Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar . As the end of the semester looms, and with it the end to the journaling, each must confront his or her trauma and find a way to heal. Superior writing carries the narrative and allows for easy suspension of disbelief in a book that is sure to resonate strongly with many teens. (Age 13 and older)
CCBC Choices 2015. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2015. Used with permission.
Entertainment Weekly's Best YA Book of 2014
TIME magazine Top YA of 2014
"Wolitzer has imagined a world for young readers that celebrates the sacred, transcendent power of reading and writing." The New York Times Book Review
There's a place where the lost go to be found.
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, signed up for an exclusive, supposedly life-changing class called Special Topics in English that focusesonly and entirelyon the works of Sylvia Plath.
But life isn't fair. Reeve has been gone for almost a year and Jam is still mourning.
When a journal-writing assignment leads Jam into a mysterious other world she and her classmates call Belzhar, she discovers a realm where the untainted past is restored, and she can feel Reeve's arms around her once again. But, as the pages of her journal begin to fill up, Jam must to confront hidden truths and ultimately decide what she's willing to sacrifice to reclaim her loss.
From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.