By Mandy Berman
Random House, Hardcover, 9780399589317, June 6, 2017, 288pp.
The Short of It:
You know that nostalgic feeling you get when looking at an old Polaroid photo? That’s how I felt while reading this book. Youth captured in a snapshot.
The Rest of It:
As kids, Rachel and Fiona spent many wonderful summers at Camp Marigold. Eight glorious weeks of swimming, riding horses and making new friends. Things at home could change, but once they returned to camp, everything fell back into place and all was good with the world. In Perennials, Rachel and Fiona return to camp as counselors and with them is Fiona’s younger sister, Helen who is about to experience camp as they once did many years ago.
Summer camp. Sigh. When I was a kid, I read a lot of books about summer camp and they really had me longing for that experience. It wasn’t until last summer that I actually attended camp (as a leader) and although I wasn’t there as a camper, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. In this novel, Berman beautifully captures all the angst and anxiety of pre-teens but she somehow manages to capture the doubts and worries of the young adult counselors as well.
This book is summer, but it’s also life and love and friendship and all the not-so-pleasant stuff that comes with it. There’s a little more “action” between the campers and counselors than I would have liked to see. I am not a prude but since I work with teens and have teens of my own, I was a little sensitive to some parts of the story but at the same time I am far from naive. That said, anyone who is sensitive to language or sexual content may want to think twice before handing the book over to your teen. It’s not marketed as YA but from the cover you might think so.
In the end, I thought it was pretty well done. The final pages were especially poignant and frankly had me all choked-up. Perennials is Berman’s first novel and I look forward to what she writes next.
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20 thoughts on “Review: Perennials”
I loved it too!
It didn’t read like a debut either. Now, I am reading Do Not Be Alarmed. Quite a page turner so far. Yay for summer reading!
Oh yes! I’ve heard great things about that one.
I almost felt on the fence about this one since there’s many negative reviews out there but I like what you said about it, especially the last couple of pages…I’m always looking to be a little choked up by a book
I knew it had some negative reviews going in but I went in with an open mind, not really expecting anything and enjoyed it. The author could have explored the parental relationships a little bit more but I thought overall it was pretty good.
I think I’ll revisit it, I still have it from net galley
I have this one on my kindle and can’t wait to read it now 🙂 I didn’t go to camp either as a kid and it always seemed like so much fun (or at least the movies and books made it seem that way). I’m definitely looking forward to Perennials. And I’m glad you finally went to came last year 🙂
Camp was a little scary for me! In charge of 8 girls and not sure how it all worked with schedules and the like and if you remember my back went out the day we left which made it very interesting!
I’ve never heard of this book but it sure does sound good.
I’ts been on a lot of summer reading lists but as another blogger said, it has gotten some negative reviews but I really had no major issues with it. I got angry at one of the characters but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the book.
I liked it, too!
I remember you saying that but it’s not really your kind of book. Is it?
This sounds simply lovely. I always wanted to go away to camp too. Books made it sound so awesome. Plus, my parents were teachers, so we were together all summer long. Camp seemed like a fantastic way to get a break from my parents for a few weeks. Alas, I never did get to go.
I can’t remember all the camp books I read as a pre-teen but I read many and I dreamed and I wished and it only took 38 years for me to get there. Lord… that is a long time.
At 13 I attended camp on an island in the San Juan Islands, WA. It was the most glorious 3 weeks and I still think of it often
Three weeks sounds amazing. I was so tired after one week but you know, age 😉
I think I might like this book.
I certainly hope you do.
Sounds like this one was hitting the right notes for you.
Sounds like a great debut!