By: Meg Wolitzer
Genre: YF - Children's & teenage fiction & true stories
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Published: 01 Oct 2014
ISBN: 9781471123764


I was sent here because of a boy. His name was Reeve Maxfield, and I loved him and then he died, and almost a year passed and no one knew what to do with me.

A group of emotionally fragile, highly intelligent teenagers gather at a therapeutic boarding school where they are mysteriously picked for 'Special Topics in English'. Here, they are tasked with studying Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar and keeping a journal.

Each time the teens write in their diaries they are transported to a miraculous other world called Belzhar, a world where they are no longer haunted by their trauma and grief - and each begins to tell their own story.


When Jam loses the love of her life, Reeve Maxfield, she sinks into a state of depression.

As a last resort her parents send her to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for highly intelligent, but fragile teenagers.

Here she is enrolled in the ‘Special Topics in English’ class with four other students all carrying their own grief and trauma.

With the help of the amazing Mrs Quenell, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and the mysterious journals that Mrs Quenell gives them and insists that they write in twice a week, slowly the students realise that something is changing in all of them.

This is a beautifully written story that will touch your emotions. It is about first love, heartbreaking loss and depression however beneath the pain is a sense of learning to live again, to forgive yourself and to come to terms with the past.

This story has a warmth to it and the personalities of the characters come alive as Meg Wolitzer explores teenage emotion in depth.

This book would suit both boys and girls Year 9 and up.

Reviewed by Michelle