Camp by Elaine Wolf: A Book Review

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I was not financially compensated for writing this review. I received a copy of Camp by Elaine Wolf to facilitate my review. My opinions are 100% honest and 100% mine.

Camp By Elaine Wolf

Camp by Elaine Wolf (256 pages, $16.95)

Summary of Camp by Elaine Wolf

A coming-of-age novel about bullying, family relationships, and the collateral damage of secrets. A great choice for book clubs (adult groups as well as teen).

Every secret has a price.

For most girls, sleepaway camp is great fun. But for Amy Becker, it’s a nightmare. Amy, whose home life is in turmoil, is sent to Camp Takawanda for Girls for the first time as a teenager. Although Amy swears she hates her German-immigrant mother, who is unduly harsh with Amy’s autistic younger brother, Amy is less than thrilled about going to camp.

At Takawanda she is subjected to a humiliating “initiation” and relentless bullying by the ringleader of the senior campers. As she struggles to stop the mean girls from tormenting her, Amy becomes more confident. Then a cousin reveals dark secrets about Amy’s mother’s past, which sets in motion a tragic event that changes Amy and her family forever.

Camp is a compelling coming-of-age novel about bullying, family relationships, and the collateral damage of secrets. It resonates with a wide teen and adult readership. Camp is a strong addition to school recommended reading and summer reading lists, and it is appropriate for anti-bullying programs. Mostly, though, Camp is a mother-daughter story for mothers and daughters to share.

My review of Camp by Elaine Wolf

Wow.

I don’t normally read young adult fiction, but I cannot tell you how happy I am that I broke that rule for Camp by Elaine Wolf. I read this book in two sittings, and only because I first started reading it at bedtime (although I made it halfway through the book before I called it a night).

I couldn’t help but recognize surprising correlations between Amy and her mother and my mother and her mother (my grandmother). My grandmother also lived in Germany during Hitler’s reign and immigrated to America following the war. She was also very strict and very proper, and had a tense relationship with her daughter. As in the book, when Amy’s mother was critical of her choice of friends or her decision to eat sweets, I could hear my grandmother’s voice in my head as she made those judgments. When Amy’s mother pushed fruit on her daughter as a snack choice, I could see my grandmother looking with disapproval if someone reached for indulgent snacks over healthier choices.

There was much, much more to Camp, however. There are themes of bullying and secrets and friendship and discovery and loss…and they are all so recognizable and so relatable. I remember them well, although not fondly. The plot twists and developments — and characters — are neither predictable or formulaic.

Camp by Elaine Wolf is a wonderful book, in spite of some of the painful moments and events. It’s masterfully written and it delivers some powerful and important messages, without being obvious or “preachy.” I can’t wait to read more from Elaine Wolf.

As I neared the end, I was in tears. Full blown, all-out tears. I won’t tell you why, because I don’t want to spoil this book for you.

Author Elaine Wolf | Camp by Elaine Wolf

Camp by Elaine Wolf has been featured on the Publisher’s Weekly Bullying Resources: A Selected Listing, the Examiner’s Top 10 List of Young Adult Fiction, and the Forward National Literature Award. It also won a USA Best Book Award. I can understand why. It’s excellent. I want my teenage daughter to read it, and I can only hope it moves her as it did me.

Elaine Wolf is referred to as “the anti-bullying novelist.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase Camp by Elaine Wolf on Amazon.

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