Brace yourself, everyone reading this review, as this is probably not going to be pretty. I had issues with this story once I got to the end. Yes, the cover makes it look as if it will be a dark and mysterious book… *OOOOOHHHHH* but I’m here to tell you that what you will get between the pages of this book is nothing dark or mysterious. What you get is confusing and head scratching.
This story starts with Jam, short for Jamaica, on her way to The Wooden Barn. The Wooden Barn is a therapeutic boarding school in Vermont for gifted, talented teens that are having some mental/emotional issues and just need extra help dealing with them. Jam doesn’t want to be in Vermont. She wants to be back in New Jersey with her exchange student boyfriend, Reeve. That was until Reeve died. Jam did not handle this well so now she is at The Wooden Barn. Everything takes a turn when Jam and four other students are specially selected for a very exclusive class called Special Topics in English. Their main writing assignment throughout the one semester of this class is to write in a journal. Nobody thinks this is a big deal until, while writing in these journals, they are transported back to the tragedy that landed them in The Wooden Barn to begin with. Each student is blown away at the fact that they are in this one moment in time when their lives changed forever. They have dubbed this place “Belzhar” and it turns out to be a healing place for each of them. Jam finds that she needs this place to help her deal with the loss of her first love and maybe even get herself back on track.
The description sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I wish I could tell you the story is as cut and dry as that blurb. Instead, what you get is part fantasy/part realistic fiction book since there is some magic thrown in. How else could a journal transport the writer to the place and time when their lives were changed? Now, the magic is not ever explained so do not look for that explanation because it won’t. You need to just know it happens and not want to know any more. Cool? Cool.
Jam was a very, very difficult character to actually care about. When she says her boyfriend died and she was grieving, you want to feel bad for her. But then she keeps talking and it is quickly revealed that she only dated him for 41 days… well….. I nearly checked out. Fourty-one days. Four. One. Days. Not even two months? Barely six weeks? Are you kidding me?!
I’m not sure what else I can say about Jam as I’m still reeling over the ending that had me pissed off. THAT is why you were in the Wooden Barn, Jam? THAT was it? (see above GIF) As I said in my Goodreads mini-review: Go to Home Depot, buy some wood, build a bridge, and get over it. You are not that important, honey. I don’t have time for your junior high drama. You are basically a LIAR and a FAKE. Your parents and mental doctor should have paid closer attention to you, loved you more as a child, or simply treated you for something totally different than depression. *POOF* Now be gone with you.
stupid nonsense part of the story aside, it wasn’t that bad of a read. HA! I hear you laughing but trust me. I stayed with it until the end because I was slightly hooked and wanted to know what Jam’s story with Reeve really was. But overall, I really enjoyed the interaction of the other students in this special class. They started sheltered and folded in on themselves, yet finished the class as someone almost totally new. Their stories and actions really got to me. I felt for them, not Jam but everyone else. I actually would have liked to know more about the teacher herself. She seemed like a character that could have added more value and depth to the story. Instead, we were given but a small snip-it at the end of who she was.
Now with all of that said, am I upset that I read this book? Nope, not at all. It is marked off of my TBR and I can move forward to
better other books. Would I recommend this to others? Ehhhh….
I can tell you this – people are either going to love or hate the ending. There are no two ways about it. Me? You can probably tell by my review that I did not like it as much as I wanted to. I believe it could have/should have been written completely differently and then the story would have been amazing.