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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