Belzhar is entertaining, emotionally complex and best of all – celebrates the value of reading and writing.
Jam (short for Jamaica) finds herself at The Wooden Barn – a school for students who are experiencing some kind of emotional trauma. For Jam this is tied up with a British exchange student with whom she fell in love – and lost.
With a handful of other students, Jam is chosen for Special Topics English – a mysterious class that only a few are chosen for – even some that don’t apply. In the class, they study only one writer across the semester. This semester is is Sylvia Plath, and her novel The Bell Jar. Along with this, the enigmatic Mrs Quenell asks them to write twice a week in their journals.
The journals turn out to be far more magical than first appears – and each of the members of the group are transported into the moments before their emotional trauma to relive the peace of mind they had before the event occurred.
Emotional truths are laid bare and the group of troubled young people draw closer, forming lasting bonds of friendship without which change would not be possible.
This is a wonderful book – read largely in one sitting. Highly recommended.