From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—Friends Sydney and Natalia, both 16, are sent to a wilderness camp to canoe the waters of northern Canada for six weeks. They have secrets: Sydney is pregnant, and Natalia has just found out that her older sister, Margit, is actually her biological mother. Other campers also have secrets. Brendan, a hot TV-soap star, is hiding his sexual orientation; and on a dare the gritty, tattooed Mick reveals that he killed a man. While the campers paddle, cook, and have adventures, Sydney ponders her predicament. She didn't have much of a relationship with the unborn child's father, and at one point during the trip she contemplates sleeping with a fellow camper to dupe him into paying for an abortion. After a night of drinking, she briefly considers a belly flop as the fix. Natalia recognizes the enormity of Margit's decision to give birth as a teenager, and she extracts a promise from Sydney that she will have the baby, assuring her that she will help, but the troubled teen must ultimately make her own decision. De Gramont introduces a lot of ancillary characters, and it's doubtful that readers will care about many of them, but the story moves along at a decent pace as it examines one teen's struggle to deal with an unplanned pregnancy.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
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Critically acclaimed adult author de Gramont makes her YA debut in this novel of summer transformation. After 16-year-old Sydney learns that she is pregnant, she and her glamorous best friend, Natalia, try to track down the boy Sydney had sex with and end up in trouble with the police. Sydney keeps her secret from both her frustrated, divorced mother and her father, who ships her off to a Canadian summer camp. Natalia joins her, and as the girls paddle through the wilderness, they wrestle with Sydney’s options. Friction grows as Natalia speaks out against abortion and then begins a charged friendship with Mick, a troubled kid who uses the n-word and claims to have killed a man. The author writes with frank authenticity about teens: their inner and outer dialogues, their gradual self-awareness, and their puzzling choices, particularly about sex. The girls’ ultimate acceptance of Mick, for example, feels both realistic and unsettling. More than Sydney’s dilemma or the camp dynamics, though, it’s the parent-child relationships, both loving and fraught, that may resonate most with YAs. Grades 8-11. --Gillian Engberg
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