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ELEUTHERIA by Allegra Hyde


by Allegra Hyde

Pub Date: March 8th, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-593-31524-8
Publisher: Vintage

A young woman journeys to a remote island camp hailed as the solution for climate disaster.

In addition to the global environmental problem, 22-year-old Willa Marks has many problems of her own: Her paranoid parents died by joint suicide when she was 17, after which she was sent to Boston to live with her self-obsessed cousins. Yearning for a place to belong, Willa splits her time among her menial cafe job, the pseudo-anarchist Freegans, and Harvard sociologist Sylvia Gill, the mysterious woman who becomes her companion, then lover. After a nasty fight about how Sylvia isn't as committed to progressive causes as she claims to be, Willa locks herself in Sylvia's office and finds a copy of Living the Solution, a guidebook describing a place called Camp Hope, “humanity’s best shot for changing course” from its current track of climatological and general doom. Sparked with new purpose, Willa travels to the Bahamian island of Eleutheria, where Camp Hope is located. She discovers that everyone there can also disappoint her, from the icy crew members to mythlike leader Roy Adams, but she tries to remain committed to the cause. Will they achieve their ambitious goal of launching Camp Hope and saving the dying planet, or is it truly too late? The nonlinear narrative wends its way from the events of Willa’s past to her time at Camp Hope and after; sporadic flashbacks to Eleutheria’s founding bog things down further. The buildup of Sylvia and Willa’s complex relationship is well written, sure to please readers who love a good queer May-December romance, but the novel is too long on detail in many places and frustratingly short in others; the fraught relationship between the locals on Eleutheria and the crew members is hinted at but never fully fleshed out. Much of the novel’s momentum stalls in Willa’s long-winded, retrospective narration.

A sprawling debut with an urgent message about the danger of climate change that unfortunately gets lost in the clutter.