Last week I awoke to my car covered in over two inches of snow, not the best way to greet the morning. Snow in April is neither expected or appreciated. However, I decide a summer camp book is perfect to combat the lingering effects of winter.
Sixteen year old Zander Osborne is being sent away for the summer. Her parents are concerned about Zander and her lack of emotions and have decided she needs special help. Their solution is Camp Padua located in Michigan (a different world than Zander’s home state of Arizona) the camp caters to at risk teens with emotional issues. Zander finds herself bunking with Cassie a girl with a eating disorder and abandonment issues, befriending Bek a sweet boy who happens to be a compulsive liar and Grover Cleveland a boy who may win Zander’s heart if he doesn’t succumb to his family’s legacy of schizophrenia. If Zander can survive the summer she may return home with a sense of peace, new friends, and true love.
I’m always weary of mental health books. As a psych major I feel that a lot of authors don’t actually manage to write a realistic portray of mental illness or it’s treatment. However, Rebekah Crane was able to perfectly illustrate the issues that come along with mental illness. The treatments may feel a little silly but they are all based in real therapeutic techniques. The mental health aspects of this book feel realistic and perfectly introduce concepts for teen readers. But this book is not without issues. I liked Zander and I thought her interactions with Grover were wonderfully sweet. I thought Bek was a great character. He is a boy trying to deal with loss and not knowing who he really is and my heart broke for him. But I really didn’t care for Cassie. I get that she was supposed to be damaged but I thought she went a little to far. I didn’t find anything likable or redeemable about her. Plus, it would appear that Crane tried to be accurate when writing about the mental health profession so I was slightly disheartened by the lack of supervision by camp staff. These mental health professions are so out of touch that they don’t notice ANYTHING going on at the camp. Campers sneak out and wondering into the medical facility without anyone noticing. I would accept one or two of these security slips as plot development but it was constant. Yet, my biggest issue was the tinge of fat shamming. I get that a character with eating disorders is going to comment on people’s weight but it felt like everyone had to comment on each other’s weight. It just didn’t work for me
Final Rating 3 out of 5
Recipe: Campfire S’mores
Break graham crackers in half
Place half a chocolate bar on one side of graham cracker
Heat marshmallow (can be done over campfire and grill or in microwave)
Place toasted marshmallow over chocolate bar
Top with second half of graham cracker