Reading Level: YA
"I died one summer, or I almost did. Part of me did. I don't say that to be dramatic, only because it's true."
For the past nine years, Helena Waite has been returning to summer camp at Southpoint. Every year the camp and its familiar routines, landmarks, and people have welcomed her back like a long-lost family member. But this year she is returning not as a camper, but as a counselor, while her best friend, Katie Bell remains behind. All too quickly, Helena discovers that the innocent world of campfires, singalongs, and field days have been pushed aside for late night pranks on the boys' camp, skinny dipping in the lake, and stolen kisses in the hayloft. As she struggles to define herself in this new world, Helena begins to lose sight of what made camp special and the friendships that have sustained her for so many years. And when Ransome, her longtime crush, becomes a romantic reality, life gets even more confusing.
Told with honesty and heart, Kathryn Williams' second novel tackles the timeless theme of growing up, set at a camp where innocence is created and lost.
In order to review this book, I have to give you an idea about what I was expecting. First of all, the title: The Lost Summer. Okay, a summer book. Secondly, the publisher: Disney. Yes, this book is published by Disney. And Disney is the King of the Happy Ending. So I knew it was going to have a cheesy ending. Third, the cover and the genre. A girl standing on a dock? Okay, that goes with the summer theme. YA? Obviously this is going to be some cheesy book about a girl getting her fairytale ending.
The one redeeming quality that I found at first was the summary. I love tales of camp, and the story seemed interesting, at least.
As you've probably already guessed, I was completely wrong and learned my lesson about judging books based on little evidence.
I was actually surprised to find a book published by Disney that doesn't fit nicely into the mold of What to Expect from Disney.
Obviously, it is a summer book. I was right about that aspect. However, I wasn't really accurate in thinking that everything was going to be happy-go-lucky and turn out happily ever after. The ending was bittersweet and totally unexpected, which is a definite plus.
I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the relationship between Helena and Katie took precedence over the relationship between Helena and her camp sweetheart. While both were important, I'm glad that each got their fair share of attention and both were shown in a realistic way.
Overall, this is still a tale of summer. But it's also something much more than that. It's a coming of age tale, first and foremost. Helena goes through milestones this summer, and you can see the change in her as she grows as a person. It's also a tale of how relationships between people change as you age. Her relationship with her camp sweetheart and her relationship with Katie both define her for awhile, and in the end she realizes what's important in life.This is still a short and sweet summer book, but it's got an extra layer of depth that isn't found in a lot of the books classified as "beach reads." I'd definitely recommend this as a book to read for any season.