I thought the author handled the crux--the relationship between Chloe and Julian--really well. But there were parts that were anachronistic--I don't t...moreI thought the author handled the crux--the relationship between Chloe and Julian--really well. But there were parts that were anachronistic--I don't think I could be convinced that modern freshman roommates are ever going to care that they have matching bedspreads, or that a 20-year-old would refer to her girlfriend as her "lover". And parts of the coming-out story didn't ring true to me; I thought all the teenagers reacted too strongly, and it seems odd to me that Chloe, folk music junkie, wouldn't really know anyone who was gay (although what do I know? all the teenagers I know go to Girl Scout camp, so they're not a great barometer. But wait, Chloe's been going to theatre/art camp for ten years. Come on, now.)
And maybe it's just because I've never used text messaging, but any time you put conversation into those text message abbreviations, it makes the characters sound less intelligent.
Maybe the biggest problem is that neither Chloe nor Julian is very likable, in my opinion.(less)
I was thrilled to come across a YA book with 16-year-olds who actually go to camp as campers (which is usually the case in the real world); summer cam...moreI was thrilled to come across a YA book with 16-year-olds who actually go to camp as campers (which is usually the case in the real world); summer camp books rarely have kids older than 13 or so, unless they're counselors (and almost no sleepaway camp will take counselors before they're out of high school). I went to camp--regular camp, not music camp or academic camp--until I was seventeen.
Unfortunately, the girls in this book act like they're 12 or 13 instead of 16, so it's sort of a wash. There's a lot in it about how summer camp is the only place where a 16-year-old girl can still be a girl, but "still being a girl" doesn't mean acting and thinking like you're 12, does it? I was pleased to find there wasn't any alcohol or smoking or serious sneaking out; Roter really did replicate that innocent atmosphere; but so few deep or angsty thoughts are expressed that the girls didn't seem real.
It's clear that Roter really knows and loves summer camp, but she also beats you over the head with it, the sense of belonging and tradition and there-are-no-cliques-here. And there aren't enough flies in this ointment. The girls consistently get along, and even the little kids are never annoying. The counselors step out of the picture whenever it's convenient. (My favorite was when the head counselor catches the girls having a food fight in the kitchen in the middle of the night, scolds them, tells them to clean it up, and then... leaves them there.) I do think it would be terrifically hard to capture the entire summer camp experience in a book, but this read like a fantasy half the time.
But really, the worst thing is that the writing is not very good. I can't imagine how this got past an editor and copy editors. One exclamation point is bad enough; three are inexcusable--and that's repeated throughout the book. And who says "sit Indian style" anymore? In what universe do 16-year-old girls (in 2007) have elaborate romantic fantasies about... David Hasselhoff?
I wish this had gone through the editor a few more times to remove some of the repetitious camp-is-paradise and add in some more conflict and age the girls a bit and remove all extraneous exclamation points. Then it might have been a very sweet book.(less)
Like most Mary Stolz books I've read, I liked this but thought it was kind of odd. Weirdly off balance, because it seems like it's going to be one kin...moreLike most Mary Stolz books I've read, I liked this but thought it was kind of odd. Weirdly off balance, because it seems like it's going to be one kind of book (city/civil rights/poor people having fun) and suddenly turns into another (summer camp) and never goes back. It was written at an interesting time, just before Martin Luther King Jr. was killed, so the characters a. obviously don't know that's going to happen and b. seem to assume (as kids would) that the current civil rights struggle was going to stretch on in the same way throughout their lifetimes.(less)