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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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…


by Meg Wolitzer

Overall Book Review:

When I saw the cover of this book, I knew it looked like something I would enjoy reading. When I saw who wrote this book, I was almost certain I would be hooked within the first few pages. And once I read the description, I wanted to read Belzhar so darn much that I snagged an advanced copy and gobbled it up. Now I want more, but alas, there is no more to this story.

I have become a bit obsessed within the past several years with books that are about troubled teens–teens who are struggling with thoughts of suicide, or teens with addictions of any kind. This book was one that basically fit that mold to a “T”. The title is actually pronounced sort of like “bell jar”. What does that term bring to mind? For me, “bell jar” makes me think of Sylvia Plath, and that is exactly what this book is supposed to remind the reader of. In a weird twisting and turning of events, a group of adolescents are all at a boarding school for troubled teens, and they all have something in common, but they don’t know it yet. I found myself on the edge of my seat, hardly able to wait to read what would happen next. This book is, in a word, enthralling. I could hardly put it down. Now I can’t wait to read more from Meg!

Review of Advance Reader Copy

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 2 mild obscenities; 5 derogatory names; 19 scatological words; 5 anatomical terms; 13 F-Word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  An accident is briefly mentioned, with one casualty; a young child goes missing and kidnapping is suspected; teens are mentioned to shoplift; a character is mentioned to have committed suicide, with no detail given; a character is mentioned to have died in an accident; a character hits head and blood is briefly mentioned; a fire is briefly mentioned, with a few animals perishing.

Sex/Nudity:  Teens are mentioned to be sexually active; minors kiss several times; sex is referred to multiple times; teens talk about “hooking up”; porn watching is mentioned with one briefly descriptive scene.

Mature Subject Matter:

Personal crises, death, illegal activities, suicide, social conflicts.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Teens drink; adults drink; minors smoking weed is mentioned; minors smoke; minors mentioned to get high.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

Books and reading have always been an important part of my life. When I was very young, my grandma was the library director at our local public library. Years later, after she had retired, I became a librarian at the same library and worked there for several years before taking a part-time job at a local coffee shop, which gives me more time to do what I love, to read and to review books! A few of my favorite authors are Aimee Bender, Diane Chamberlain, and Curtis Sittenfeld however, I will read almost any book I come across! In my spare time you can find me reading (of course), volunteering at a wildlife animal rehab, or hanging out with my two house rabbits.