Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Info: Dutton Books for Young Readers, copyright 2014, 264 pages
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 Mayfield 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.
This was an assigned read that I was first drawn to because of the cover, but quickly became engrossed in the story. It was also an audiobook read that just took me a couple of days which is relatively unheard of. What can I say...I was on a roll. And finally, it's difficult to review without giving away a whole lot of spoilers. And this book kind of depends on the journey and not necessarily the destination. So I will do my best to keep you in the dark so you are forced to read it yourself.
Jam Gallahue is suffering. Her boyfriend has passed away and she's not coping well. She's failing at school, at being a big sister, and at life. Jam can't let go of Reeve, and her parents are at a loss on how to help her. Enter The Wooden Barn, which is the oddest name for a special school. As the description reads, Jam is selected to participate in Special Topics in English where one author is studied for the entire semester. This semester, the five members of the class are diving into the world of Sylvia Plath, in particular The Bell Jar. A journal assignment leads to unexpected experiences and the chances for growth, forgiveness, and the ability to live life.
Overall, a pretty decent book. Despite Plath being at the foundation of the books, she's kind of pushed aside through most of it. There is definitely a "Oh Captain, my Captain," Dead Poet Society vibe. I was just waiting for someone to stand on a desk. So this didn't really feel new. Even the "journey" (a.k.a. spoilers) weren't all that surprising. It's really a very sad book, but one that might help a teen struggling with depression, or fear, or regret. Wolitzer is a force to be reckoned with.