Saturday, June 06, 2020

Summer at Meadow Wood

Tan, Amy Rebecca. Summer at Meadow Wood
May 19th 2020 by HarperCollins
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Vic has gone to summer camp for a while, and loves her friends in her cabin, but this summer she isn't as enthusiastic. She would rather be at home, except that things are not good between her parents, and she has found out a secret about why her mother wants to get her out of the house for eight weeks. Camp itself isn't great-- her counselor, Chieko, doesn't seem to want to be there, there are few girls in Yarrow cabin, her "camp sister" is a precocious, homesick girl named Vera, and things seem off with bunk mates Carly, Jordanna and the Jaida's. It doesn't help when Vic misses activity sign ups and ends up with "farm". The only other camper there is Bella, and she is more interested in painting her nails blue than picking blueberries, although Earl, who owns the camp and works in the gardens, seems nice. When her canteen money is cut off by her mother, Vic feels sorry for herself, but Cheiko gives her advice from Eleanor Roosevelt-- work is a good antidote for feeling down. Vic helps Earl out more on the farm and even volunteers to go help out at the farmer's market on Saturday morning... at 5 a.m.! There, she meets a boy her age, Angel,  whose family has a flower shop, and the two enjoy hanging out. Her fellow camp mates run into problems, one gets injured, and things with her family aren't great, but Vic tries to find a way forward for herself.
Strengths: Earl steals the show, in my opinion, with Angel giving this a delightful Little Darlings feeling, but without the, er, racy parts. (Sorry. I am now distracted with thoughts of Matt Dillon.) Vic is a bit of a brat at first, although she may have some reason to be, but she gets over herself, which is always good to see. Her home problems are real and serious, but since she is away from home, they can't really be dealt with. Cheiko is not a great counselor, but her backstory is interesting, as is how she encourages Vic. I love how Vic visited her brother to make him feel better and uses her hard earned money to put into his canteen account. There are lots of camp stories out there, but this one really stands out.
Weaknesses: I thought this would be a typical camp book at the beginning, with all of the girl drama, and almost gave up, but this has a lot of interesting facets to it, so I'm glad I continued.
What I really think: This reminded me of Nickerson's The Secrets of Blueberries, Brothers, Moose & Me, which doesn't circulate super well, but which I enjoyed. I will purchase, since this author's A Kind of Paradise does well and I love books where children learn the merits of working!

Spoiler: Earl lives. I had my concerns, ala Greene's A Girl Called Al. Fear not.
Ms. Yingling

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