Friday, June 12, 2015

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

by Alida Hanson

Jam's first boyfriend dies, sending her into an emotional tailspin. Her parents enroll her in a therapeutic boarding school (no, it's not called Belzhar) to stabilize. She is chosen to be in the legendary English: Special Topics class where they read The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and complete a nightly journaling assignment.

The students, each victims of trauma that led them to the school, start to form relationships based on experiences they have during journaling. I won't spoil it, but plot twists make Belzhar a satisfying read.

Meg Wolitzer is a pro. She knows how to write a compelling, artful story. This is hypercritical, but it was a tad too polished for me--I felt manipulated. I read The Interestings this year and felt the same way--like I was in the hands of a master who knows how to anticipate what her audience wants and gives it to them. I haven't gotten any feedback from students yet on this one. 

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