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Fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars will find another intriguing, mysterious novel in Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar. The book is predominantly set at The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for intelligent but emotionally unstable teens. When Jamaica “Jam” Gallahue transfers to The Wooden Barn after the unexpected death of her boyfriend, she is automatically enrolled in the elite, highly selective course Special Topics in English.
Ryan Dean West, Winger to his friends, is determined to take control of his junior year. In the Venn diagram of life, most people overlap, or at least most junior guys at Winger's school, it is that little crescent outside that makes us stand out. For Ryan Dean, it is that he is a 14 year old junior, two years younger than his other classmates. That means he doesn't need to shave, hasn't hit his growth spurt, and has no skill with the ladies.
Orphan Jane Williams has lived her entire life in the foster care system. This has given her a particularly hard outlook on life, but her determination to better her surroundings makes Jane work hard for what she has earned. Jane manages to win a scholarship to the prestigious Birch Grove Academy, where she is able to fit in for the first time in her life and find people who are like-minded to herself.
For those readers who enjoyed P.C. Cast’s House of Night series here’s another young adult paranormal series by C. C.
Tobias Wolff, who teaches creative writing at Stanford, has led an interesting life. His success comes despite a precarious childhood, from which he escaped through a combination of quick wit and good luck. So it’s no surprise that his novel Old School, which draws on his personal experience, is a fascinating exploration of the precarious nature of class and social status.