Belzhar (sampler) – Review

“[Everyone] has something to say. But not everyone can bear to say it. Your job is to find a way.”


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.


The biggest mystery to me is what the heck “belzhar” means! I’m dying to find out!

Initially, Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer wasn’t a book that I was particularly itching to buy or read. It had received some really good ARC reviews, but it didn’t seem like my cuppa. When the sampler came out on ISSUU, I figured, why not?

Why not, indeed.

Reading this sampler, I was sucker-punched, flooded with information and I loved it. I love when books just dive right into the heart of things, no easing in, no beating around that much-abused bush. The prologue does a spectacular job of making me thirsty for more. Reading it, I thought: I don’t even have to read the rest of this sampler to know that I want it and I want it now! 

At first I thought maybe Jamaica was too much of a Debbie downer for me to really enjoy her character, but I was wrong. I’m curious to find out exactly what happened with Reeve and how it spiraled her into the fragile state that she’s in. Jam has a wry sense of humour that I really appreciate, and I think she’s going to become a character very much beloved to me.

“He has one of those square, masculine heads that have probably been square and masculine since he first emerged from his mom’s birth canal” – 22

I really like the concept of this book, and I’m excited and anxious to see where the Special Topics English class will develop, along with the four students taking the class with Jam. When I finished this (very short!) sampler, I kept clicking the “next page” button, not realizing the book was over because no, it can’t be over yet! Thankfully, the wait is not long. Belzhar releases September 30.

Read the sampler here:

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