Author: Meg Wolitzer
Format / Length: Paperback / 266 pages
Publisher / Date Published: Children’s Simon & Schuster UK / October 1st 2014
Category / Genre: Young Adult / Magical Realism
| Goodreads |
Description: 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.
When previously reading reviews of Belzhar, I found that a lot of people seemed to be taken aback by the magical realism element to the story, but, funnily enough, I think that was the best part of the novel, followed by the writing style. Because unfortunately for me the rest fell flat. It wasn’t that this was a bad novel — because it wasn’t. It just felt so . . . meh. I got what I was expecting from Belzhar, but considering my expectations weren’t high at the time I wasn’t surprised.
One positive thing I can say about Belzhar was the uniqueness of its plot. I admire that. I liked that it wasn’t a clichéd, overused idea, but instead Wolitzer brought something new and exciting to the magical realism genre, which I’ve never really been fond of before. But when I weigh that up against all the things I didn’t like about Belzhar, then this wasn’t an easy novel to enjoy. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the story, or the writing that has made me feel so meh about the story — more that I didn’t like the characters. And when I don’t like the characters then I’m most likely not going to like the story in its entirety, either.
There wasn’t a particular reason why I didn’t connect with the characters. But when the plot twist was revealed, all I could think was Are you kidding me? It was that sort of twist for me — and not in a good way, either. I just . . . really?! I felt a little cheated, if I’m being honest — and, without spoiling it for people who haven’t read the novel — it was just very frustrating to have everything flipped on its head. In the beginning of the novel you’re feeling sorry for the main character. And in the end you’re not. (Or, at least I wasn’t.)
But the UK / AUS edition of that cover is STUNNING.
Have you read Belzhar — what did you think of it? And what does a plot twist need to work for you?