This is a great book!
I just needed to get that out of the way, because neither the cover, the title or the blurb of Jane McLoughlin’s debut would have sold me on the book, and I’m sorry if I sound a bit grumpy. Luckily it’s a Frances Lincoln book, and they had the good sense to have four people whose opinions I trust write the inside cover recommendations.
They made me take a proper look, and I came to understand this was not some weird book about American summer camp. Some summer camp that would have been!
It is not quite as scary as an Anne Cassidy (she’s one of the four) book, for which I am grateful. But it is hair raising enough, and I must mention that I thoroughly disapprove of the poor parental skills the parents of the three main characters, Etta, Peter and Noah, possess. But I suppose it was either that, or kill them off, and there’s been enough death as it is, without resorting to more.
Etta’s mother has very bad taste in boyfriends. Peter’s mother has just died, and his father thinks too much of himself and too little of his son. Noah’s mother refuses to talk to him about his Native American background.
English teenager Peter escapes to find his mother’s cabin by Yellow Lake in the woods in Wisconsin. Etta lives nearby, while Noah decides to search for his roots in the same area.
The bad-tasting boyfriend causes the rest to happen, along with his criminal associates, and everything comes to a head in those woods near Yellow Lake, with not a single summer camp in sight. Will the three teenagers even survive?
This is a book for young teens, so you can draw your own conclusions. It’s very much the kind of book where you read ‘just five more pages’ before you do whatever you were going to do. And another five. Maybe ten.
The only thing I missed was more explanation of the how and the who towards the end. Sometimes there is nothing scarier than a church-going, law-abiding American. And it’s hard for whites to understand the chip on the shoulder carried by – some – Native Americans.
But other than that, it’s ‘lovely,’ as Peter would say.