By: Quinn Collins
How do you think Belzhar helped the students grow?
When the students wrote in their red leather journals, they experienced a trance that they called Belzhar. Belzhar lead the students to a happy memory where they were free to roam around. For Jam, her Belzhar was being with Reeve and reliving old memories. For the other students it was things like being able to walk and run without the use of their wheelchair, and spending time with their brother who had been kidnapped years before. Each student had a different Belzhar but they all seemed to be affected in the same way. It was an escape from their lives and their struggles. So I think that made it easier to see how each student grew. At the end of the journal they relived their traumatic event and they learned to accept what had happened to them. They learned that although you can’t change the past, you can live a different future. A future without constant guilt and pain about what happened to them. And it was Belzhar that helped them understand this. I think without it, they would all spend a lot more of their time stuck in the past.
Why do you think the author mislead readers in the beginning of the book?
As I finished the book Belzhar, I sat thinking about this for a while and I was sort of angry at first. I felt like I was lied to and I was stupid for not discovering the truth sooner. But the more I thought about it the more I understood and was happy it unfolded this way. When Jam was introduced as a teenage girl severely distraught from the death of the love of her life (Reeve), it was less confusing. It was extremely sad, but it's something that I think everyone can related to. Heartbreak and loss are something that everyone goes through in their life. If Jam would have been introduced as a crazy, obsessive, liar it would have been very hard to understand Jam and where she was coming from. Instead when the author revealed that Reeve and Jam's relationship was just a story Jam had made up in her head I felt even worse for her. She had a much more serious problem that I couldn't even recognize. I feel like Meg Wolitzer did it this way for shock factor, and also to try and understand Jam before harshly judging her as a psychotic obsessive girl.
What is the relationship between Griffin and Jam?
What was the point of Jam eating the jam that she got from Reeve at the end of the novel?
Why do you think the author had the class read Sylvia Plath?
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)
This passage made Jam freeze in her seat. She responded with, "Sylvia Plath understands everything about love. What it does to you. What it did to me. She knows me." At first this reference didn't mean much to me. I remember thinking about it and feeling bad for her. But after realizing the truth about their relationship, I though right back to this passage. It woke her up a little and made her realize someone else knew what she was feeling. I think it probably made her feel more open about the truth. Because only a little while after, she opened up about what really happened with Reeve.