Constance “Cricket” Montgomery is horrified when, as a semipunishment, her wealthy father nixes her vacation to Maui and sends her to work at Camp I Can “with a bunch of retards” and a strict counselor who knows Cricket mysteriously well.
The only thing keeping her sane in a “[h]andicapped hell” of “[s]mashed-in, dog-faces who can actually use the toilet” is Quinn, a Zac Efron look-alike who sees beyond her privileged upbringing and spurs her to notice the funny and poignant “moments” that highlight the campers’ human qualities. Cricket’s moments, though refreshingly unsaccharine, nonetheless fail to portray the campers as three-dimensional teens. Filtered by her spoiled obliviousness, the campers’ jokes and interests—among them Edward Cullen, Hannah Montana and Midol—often come across with a head-patting air of “How cute.” Her patronization is especially unsettling considering that she and the campers are of similar age. The campers are little more than Cricket’s teachable moments, her change of heart for them notwithstanding—ironically, even as she learns to leave her “posh, fancy bubble,” it’s still all about her. Though this novel is undoubtedly well-intentioned, it’s exasperating, as the emphasis on the message that people with disabilities are people too resigns them to the position of plot devices, not people.
Readers who want “moments” should spend time with the campers in Harriet McBryde Johnson’s Accidents of Nature (2006), who are already human beings. (Fiction. 13-18)