The Resource Belzhar : a novel, Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar : a novel, Meg Wolitzer

Label
Belzhar : a novel
Title
Belzhar
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Meg Wolitzer
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Storyline
Tone
Character
Award
  • Westchester Fiction Award, 2015.
  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2017.
Review
  • Grades 9-12 When Jam suffers a terrible trauma and feels isolated by grief, her parents send her to the Wooden Barn, a boarding school for “highly intelligent, emotionally fragile” teens. Once there she is enrolled in a class with only five specially selected students where they exclusively read Sylvia Plath. Sound angsty? Of course it is (check out the Joy Division T-shirt on the cover), but beneath the depressive trappings is a moving story of emotional growth in the face of catastrophic loss. All of Jam’s classmates are similarly grief-stricken, and Plath’s work, as well as magical journals that transport each student into the blissful moment before his or her loss occurred, help them move on and appreciate their resilience. Wolitzer handles Jam’s increasingly complex psychological state with delicate, nonjudgmental nuance—the first-person narrative slowly reveals the sticky circumstances of her trauma as well as her growing realization that living in the past is paralyzing. While the conclusion is a touch heavy-handed, older teen readers, especially rabid Plath fans, will relish Wolitzer’s deeply respectful treatment of Jam’s realistic emotional struggle HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Older teen fans of Wolitzer’s New York Times best-selling adult novel The Interestings (2013) will likely flock to her YA debut. -- Hunter, Sarah (Reviewed 08-01-2014) (Booklist, vol 110, number 22, p15)
  • /* Starred Review */ Gr 9 Up — Devastated by the death of her first love, 15-year-old Jam Gallahue is having difficulty moving on with her life. After nearly a year of being mired in grief, her parents send her to a boarding school in rural Vermont that specializes in "emotionally fragile" teens. Once there, she is surprised to have been one of five students selected by the legendary Mrs. Quenell for a class called Special Topics in English. It seems that the entire semester—Mrs. Q's swan song before retirement—will be devoted to the works of Sylvia Plath, and the students are given special red leather journals in which to record their reactions to the assigned readings. Jam is unenthusiastic at first until she realizes that these are no ordinary journals. When she and her classmates, all of whom have endured debilitating losses, begin to writing in their pages, they are transported to their former lives, at least for a while. The teens bond over their experiences in what they call Belzhar, and are able to share their stories and look out for and protect one another. As the semester progresses and the notebooks begin to fill up, they must each confront some inner demons and make some tough choices about their future paths. Wolitzer spins a smart and engrossing tale of trauma, trust, and triumph. She is respectful of the intelligence and sophistication of the teens while acknowledging their vulnerability and lack of life experience. Their voices ring true and the emotional truths are authentic—even for those readers unwilling or unable to embrace the magical realism. Exploring the themes of self-reflection and the recurring notion that "words matter" make this title a perfect choice for book groups and discussions.—Luann Toth, School Library Journal --Luann Toth (Reviewed August 1, 2014) (School Library Journal, vol 60, issue 8, p107)
  • /* Starred Review */ 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.) --Staff (Reviewed July 7, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 27, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ In a riveting exploration of the human psyche, her debut for teens, best-selling author Wolitzer offers a story about what it means to lose someone, or something, you love. Twice. Jam Gallahue is sent to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for emotionally fragile teens, when she fails to recover from her boyfriend's death. At first, she can't fathom how the school will help her. All she wants to do is stay in bed and remember the 41 days she and Reeve shared. One class, "Special Topics in English," offers her a way to experience those moments in a whole new way—by writing in a particular journal and slipping into a surreal alternate reality. She and the four other members of the class are both thrilled at the opportunity to revel in their old lives and anxious that when the journals fill up, they have to say goodbye all over again. Will the final page be healing or just as terrible as the first loss? Wolitzer's teenage characters are invigorated, flawed, emotionally real and intensely interesting. Even as readers fold back the layers of the story and discover unexpected truths and tragedies, the plot maintains an integrity that has come to be hallmark of Wolitzer's novels. In-depth references to Sylvia Plath add highlights to an already robust text. An enticing blend of tragedy, poetry, surrealism and redemption. (Magical realism. 12-16)(Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2014)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10355387
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Wolitzer, Meg
Index
no index present
Intended audience
Young Adult
LC call number
PZ7.W8338
LC item number
Bel 2014
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/minGradeLevel
  • 9
  • 12
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Emotional problems of teenagers
  • Boarding schools
  • Schools
  • Dating (Social customs)
  • Friendship
  • Emotional problems
Target audience
adolescent
Label
Belzhar : a novel, Meg Wolitzer
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
266 pages
Isbn
9780525423058
Lccn
2014010747
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • (Sirsi) o870919596
  • (OCoLC)870919596
Label
Belzhar : a novel, Meg Wolitzer
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
22 cm
Extent
266 pages
Isbn
9780525423058
Lccn
2014010747
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
System control number
  • (Sirsi) o870919596
  • (OCoLC)870919596

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