On a three-week wilderness adventure in Northern Ontario arranged by her mother, Ingrid is tested in unexpected ways.
Utterly surprised when the camping trip turns out not to be cabins and day hikes but rugged hiking and canoeing, Ingrid is nonetheless determined to find her “inner Nature Girl” and prove that she’s mature enough to spend her senior year at school in London, England. Ingrid punctuates her first-person narrative of the three weeks with journal entries in the form of letters to her mother, in which she sarcastically recounts the daily annoyances of the “shit hole” she finds herself in. The present-day account is interspersed with past-tense chapters detailing a childhood spent traveling around Europe with her mother, a world-famous opera star who stopped performing when Ingrid was 11. The two parts of her life seem strangely juxtaposed, but as Ingrid reflects on what brought her to this moment—the adjustment to public school in Toronto, the bullying, the message from her mother that she had no musical talent, as well as hints of some deeper emotional events—she begins to recognize the strength of character and leadership qualities that lie within her. With just three characters explicitly of color, Ingrid and the novel default to white.
Younge-Ullman’s subtle approach to narrative pacing allows readers to accompany Ingrid on her journey to fully confront and accept her past as she discovers her own true voice. (Fiction. 13-17)