From School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Sent off in the summer of 1962 to Camp Takawanda, Amy Becker, 14, misses her autistic younger brother, Charlie, and her father, but not her carping German-immigrant mother, Sonia. Life at camp takes its toll when Amy becomes the target of bunkmate Rory's bullying. With lax adult supervision and Amy's inability to speak up for herself, Rory and her followers gain the power to intimidate Amy and rudely challenge counselors. On family visiting day, after Rory ingratiates herself to ingenuous Sonia and terrifies Charlie with a barking dog, Amy and her two friends decide to fight back and hope that Amy's Uncle Ed, owner of the camp, will send Rory home. To her credit, Amy attracts the attention of Andy from a nearby boys' camp and becomes an accomplished tennis player. Details of life in the early '60s add dimension to a plot that is rife with secrets about Rory, Uncle Ed, Sonia, and Amy's cousin Robin. Resolution comes in a melodramatic rush involving Amy's stealthy search through her mother's papers, Charlie's death after being hit by Sonia's car, a relocation to Connecticut, and Sonia's struggle with cancer, when she finally reveals to Amy details of her sad past. In a story told in retrospect as she is about to head to college, Amy is able to forgive her once-secretive mother.-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Lousy camp experiences are as plentiful as mosquitoes. So there should no shortage of takers for this look at a 14-year-old girl’s hellish eight weeks at Camp Takawanda for Girls. Ostracized Amy feels like she can trace her problems to the moment she boarded the bus: she was the only one wearing the stupid camp uniform, and her autistic brother, Charlie, made a scene. Soon cruel Rory and her posse of mean girls strip Amy naked in front of boys on a beach and throw her into the water. It’s frustrating for the reader—yet still believable—that Amy doesn’t manage to get help, and so Rory continues to humiliate and threaten Amy at every turn. Fake cheery letters back home to Charlie make her travails all the more painful, until she breaks through into vengeance: “Camp was a jungle; I’d play by the law. Eat or be eaten.” Despite some overly monomaniacal characters and excess incidents, the salacious material, heavy on the sexual harassment, is tough to stop reading and, in general, rings sadly true. Grades 7-10. --Daniel Kraus