Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Lost Summer by Kathryn Williams

The Lost SummerThe Lost Summer by Kathryn Williams (Hyperion) chronicles Helena's first summer as counselor, while her best friend, Katie Bell, remains a camper. No, not that Katie Bell. From the moment she arrives at camp (texting while driving) to the late-night sneaking out to meet not-so-great boys to taking up smoking, seventeen-year-old Helena seems to be making a string of mistakes, and her relationships with alpha girl counselor Winn and best friend forever Katie Bell suffer too. When it seems like things just can't get any worse, Helena's in a boating accident that puts her into a coma--and mostly things are fine when she wakes up, and those that aren't, well, they're no particular challenge.

Unfortunately, the easy-out ending means that we don't really get to explore the resolutions in the friendships, and the explanation of what happens next is crammed into an overview that lasts a few pages. Neither do we get a true sense of the physical challenges that come from having been in a coma; instead, one can read the end as both punishment and salvation from iffy, but not world-ending, choices.

If you are looking for summer camp nostalgia, you might find it in the first two-thirds of the book, but it's still from the perspective of a counselor who spends a lot of time away from camp. The best parts are Helena's interactions with her campers, and more of that would have balanced the story between her strengths and weaknesses as a character.

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