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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

This is a Young Adult novel by a well known author of adult fiction, and while I picked it up belated to it's nomination for the National Book Award, it is well worth reading.

Jam, short for Jamaica, is depressed.  She had a short but intense relationship with Reeve, and when he dies, she is inconsolable.  Her parents and her doctor are concerned enough that they decide she needs to go to a boarding school that specializes in supporting and educating traumatized teens.  Once there she gets picked for an English class where they study Sylvia Plath the entire semester--which sounds like it could induce depression, but it does not.  The students get a journal that the teacher supplies and that journal takes each one of them to the time and place where their trauma occurred.  It is like a kind of virtual reality and they relive the time and place until they are able to let go of the trauma.  A kind of in vivo exposure therapy that they under go individually but with the advantage that they support each other as a group.  It is a wonderful story that is well told.

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