I picked up The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu on impulse at the library for two reasons – (1) there’s a blurb on the back from Celeste Ng (who I love see Ex 1 and Ex 2) and (2) I’m pretty much always

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You can buy this book from Powell’s

willing to give a 200-300 page book a try, even if I hate it, it’s not going to take up too much time, especially if it turns into something I don’t want to finish. Also, well there’s a bit of summer feeling in the air.

I thought the book would be more of girls version version of The Lord of the Flies, and based on other reviews on Goodreads, many others were thinking this too — as the dust jacket sells it, this is a story about five girls who “set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home.” In fact, very very little of the book is spent on that experience. The book opens with the girls at Camp Forevermore, and then jumps and tells the story of Nita from before the kayaking trip into her 30’s. Which is a bit jarring when you’re expecting to read a story about a bunch of nine to eleven year old girls lost on a island. I feel like the book jacket is really responsible for a lot of people not liking this book on Goodreads, unless the author kind of wanted to destroy the reader’s expectations?

The book continues to jump back and forth, each girl gets a section so it goes (1) Camp Forevermore, (2) Nita’s story, (3) Back to where we were at Camp Forevermore, (4) Andee’s story, (5) Back to where we were at Camp Forevermore, etc. Eventually things do get a little Lord of the Flies at Camp Forevermore, and there are some connections between the bad things that happen to the girls during their Camp Forevermore lost kayaking experience that you can see exactly how it later haunts them in life. The end of the book, which finally tells Siobhan’s story (the Camp Forever more sections are told by nine-year old Siobhan) really pulled that together for me.

This is a well-written and engaging book, I didn’t necessarily identify with all the characters, but I was interested in them. I will say, it seemed sort of needless that terrible things kept happening to these girls, Isabel in particular has a really crappy life. But maybe that’s not completely unrealistic, sadly in life you can’t say, BUT BAD THINGS ALREADY HAPPENED TO ME!!! It’d be nice if you could though right?

I will also say I specifically enjoyed the reference to the play Our Town (Isabel goes to see a high school version and the “revelations about life and death – however hammily played – … made Isabel bawl”), which happens to be my favorite play. I don’t think you can “spoil” something that was written many decades ago, but SPOILER WARNING. Our Town is about life and death, and one of the main characters dies but she gets to go back a relive a day in her life. Everyone tells her, don’t pick a special day, pick a regular one, and ultimately she’s so upset by how cavalier everyone is, how they don’t notice life while they’re living it that she runs back the cemetery to you know, keep being dead. So… I have this thing in my life that I call an “Our Town day” a day where it’s not your birthday or your wedding day, and nothing really happens, but you just feel good, and if you died, you’d want to relive this day because you did in fact, feel alive and you noticed it.

Currently reading: deep into The Female Persuasion and loving it, also working on Ursula Le Guin’s No Time to Spare.