It’s been awhile since I read a Kindle First book. They haven’t really been capturing my interest lately, but for some reason, I felt compelled to try this one. And I’m so glad that I did. Because this book was great.
Zander has been sent by her parents to Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens. Some of her fellow campers have eating disorders. Some have attempted suicide. Others suffer from mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Zander doesn’t really feel like she belongs there. After all, she gets great grades. She does what her parents ask. She even has a cute boyfriend. Everything is just fine with her life, so why is she stuck at this weird camp, forced to partake in “share-apy” and craft time?
Zander doesn’t think that anything at this camp will help her. And she’s right, to an extent. The adults that run the camp don’t seem to know what they’re doing. They certainly don’t act like they’ve studied adolescent psychology or are qualified to do this for a living. The kids are allowed to pretty much do whatever they’d like. Aside from the counselors that sleep in the cabins with them, there’s very little supervision. But it turns out that kids know how to help each other.
At camp, Zander meets a collection of misfits who turn out to be exactly what she needed. Cassie describes herself as a manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Bek is a pathological liar. And Grover. Oh, Grover. Grover just knows that someday he’ll turn out to be schizophrenic like his father. Cut off from all communication outside the camp, the four teens bond and, as much as they can, help each other overcome their issues.
It seems that the negative reviews for this book have one main criticism: that the resolution of the characters’ various problems was too easy. So let me just put my take on it out there. This is a story about four teens finding friendship despite their differences. It is not a how-to manual for overcoming mental illness. It was not written to encourage parents to send their troubled children to summer camp rather than a qualified physician. It’s a ray of hope for people who feel like they’re alone with their problems.
This is a great book. It’s a believable story of a collection of teenagers who just want to feel better about their lives. It wraps up a little too neatly, but sometimes we all need a ray of sunshine in our lives.
Final rating: ★★★★☆