'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

REVIEW: Belzhar - Meg Wolitzer

BelzharTitle: Belzhar
Author: Meg Wolitzer
Series: None
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: Won
Publication Date: 1st October, 2014

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, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.
But life isn't fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.
Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path 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.
Belzhar has been one of those books that I've had my eye on for what feels like the longest time. I've never read The Bell Jar but having read the synopsis of this I just knew that this was going to be a back that would be right up my alley. I was hooked from the first page and I really felt that Meg Wolitzer did an amazing job of building up mystery an intrigue around the key characters. I was desperate to know each of their stories and how they ended up at The Wooden Barn. I think as well, that she managed to truly normalise issues of mental health. I find that in a lot of fiction that explores the issue, the characters are made out to be oh so fragile and 'different' to the others, but I loved that this was a group of regular teens that just needed time to grieve.

As I picked the book up to read and added it to my Goodreads shelf, I noticed that there had been some pretty negative reviews surrounding the book. I refused to read them until I'd finished, and although I agree with some of the points, I have to say that I could still totally empathise with the characters. Yes, Jam only knew Reeve for 41 days, but people can fall pretty hard in a short space of time. Not only that, but I thought that the idea of Belzhar itself was fantastic. I'm not going to go into too much detail on what Belzhar is but it most certainly made the book. It was a complete twist on the usual mental health books and I loved that it had a slightly supernatural element to it.

Not only was the plot fantastic, but I loved watching the characters grow and learning about their pasts; about how they ended up there. It was great to see so many different perspectives going on and seeing that wall of support building up. Belzhar is such an emotional but exciting book. I was so intrigued as to what was going to happen next. It's definitely difficult to put down! I urge you to red this book despite some of the negative reviews. Make your own mind up about this book. To me it was a truly wonderful read with plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes!

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