From Publishers Weekly
A 14-year-old boy with an affinity for all things military makes for an extremely likable protagonist in former naval officer Garigliano's dark, wonderfully twisted debut. Habitually uprooted by his beautiful mother, Cecile, Loren despises her ever-revolving carousel of dolt boyfriends, so he revolts by torching the golf course where Cecile's latest dish, golf pro Tom, tees off. Loren gets caught, and Cecile reluctantly ships him off to Camp Ascend!—a six-week rehabilitation program for young miscreants headed by Ray Kellogg, aka the Colonel, an ex-con scam artist who charges a $7,000 fee for treatment at the ramshackle campground staffed by the Colonel's suntanned, heavily coiffed wife, Kitty, and Kitty's sadistic, malevolent brother Donovan, who likes to play drill sergeant and torture kids. Loren, clever and smitten with pretty fellow inmate Liz, uses the skills of the seasoned operative to navigate and, eventually, defuse the escalating dangers at Camp Ascend! in a thrilling denouement. What initially seems like a wacky teenage romp morphs into a harrowing story about resilience, redemption and the will to survive. Garigliano excels with this sinister, superlative debut. (Jan.)
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Rejected by 25 publishers before finally making it into print, former Naval officer Jeff Garigliano’s debut novel is being billed as adult fiction despite its young protagonists and adolescent themes. “I looked at ‘young adult’ books and I didn’t like them and it didn’t belong there,’ states Garigliano. Most critics agreed with him, citing the novel’s black humor, violence, and sex scenes. (Only the Cleveland Plain Dealer
felt these elements were “gratuitous, like a sex scene added to a movie to avoid the dreaded ‘PG’ rating.”) Despite the debate over the novel’s proper market and a few slow spots, the critics were pleased with Garigliano’s strong characters, authentic dialogue, and obvious gift for humor that had reviewers laughing out loud.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.