Friday, June 14, 2013

Julie's Review: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Summary: Named a most anticipated book for Summer 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly. A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls-school rituals, set in the 1930s South. It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family's citrus farm — a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country. Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea's expulsion from her family, but it isn't long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner — a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression — and the major debut of an important new writer. ~powells.com

Review: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a superb debut novel. It takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Thea is a complex, fully flushed out character. She is deeply flawed and yet young and naive. She often acts without thinking of the consequences. She is burning with desire. She is naive and sheltered. She is a young woman caught between childhood and womanhood. Ms. DiSclafani grasps all of these and adds nuances to them in a wonderful manner.

The camp/school itself adds to the coming of age story. The setting is remote. Thea moves from one sheltered situation into another one. They are just different experiences for her. She gets to see how others view her and the world. I loved the camp setting. I could picture it tucked back into the mountains with the cabins being hidden with in the woods.

Ms. DiSclafani keeps you guessing throughout the book. It's not so much what happened but how the story is told. You can pretty much ascertain what happened but it's the outcome of why Thea was the one to be sent away that is fascinating to me. The family dynamics of the Atwell's are certainly different than what I've experienced. The four of them live very sheltered lives only to visited by Thea's dad's brother, his wife and his son. How do children learn to interact with others? How do they learn what is social acceptable?

You knew the road that Thea was going to go down but you couldn't do anything about it. You are fascinated by her. You root for her. You want her to figure out that some of her choices have sent her down this path. I was anxious for her to make friends and fit in.

I loved Thea's friendship with Sissy. In the end it is that friendship that saves her. It is also her growing and realizing that actions have consequences. Sometimes those consequences last a lifetime but it doesn't mean you cannot obtain happiness. You have to make your own happiness.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a wonderful novel. It is perfect for the beach, pool, campfire, etc. You will want to know what the terrible thing Thea did was and won't be able to stop reading until you do.

Did you know that the camp really existed?! Neither did I but check it out! I kind of want to go there now. Girl trip anyone?!

Final Take: 5/5

Thank you to Riverhead Books for my ARC copy of the book.

Note: Join the discussion on Twitter by searching for #Yonahlossee.





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3 comments :

Monika June 14, 2013 at 1:38 PM  

I'd been eyeing this one, but was on the fence. Now I want to read it - thanks for sharing!

Beth Hoffman June 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM  

I have the ARC of this book and hope to read it soon. Terrific review!

Anita June 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM  

Julie, awesome review!!

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