Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finally, a book about a poet other than Emily Dickinson! Belzhar is the Special Topics in English classes code for a place (or alternate reality) that they go to; the name derived from The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's novel. Each has come - or been sent - to The Wooden Barn boarding school because there something they need to work through, some tragedy they need to get over. The five Special Topics students find themselves working through things with the help of Belzhar and the red journals their teacher gives them to use.
It's disappointing that the writing doesn't quite live up to the book - at times the author seems to be talking down to us, and at others it's as though she doesn't like her characters that much. There is a Big Twist at the end, but afterwards it's a letdown because there doesn't seem to be any unexpected payoff (what I mean is, you anticipate xx is going to happen, Big Twist appears, but rather than something new happening, xx happens anyway).
So let's call this 3.5 and move on.
ARC provided by publisher.