A novel about growing pains, redemption and the steady presence of the natural world.
Rector’s debut focuses on one summer in the life of 15-year-old Eva Robinson, a tomboyish girl whose greatest ambition is to live in the cabin of her close older friend, Cyril Bankstrom, in the Adirondacks. She visits the camp where Cyril lives every summer with her parents, and she’s grown up there in beautiful surroundings. This summer, however, her world is changing: Her father isn’t there, as he’s been imprisoned for a drunken driving incident that killed an innocent person, and her mother is anxious and unsure of how to deal with Eva now that she’s an adolescent girl. Eva spends time with Cyril, as she always has, but another major addition to her life is Jared, a boy her age whose family lives in the area. He’s as enchanted with the area’s old guide boats as Eva is with the mountains, and they spend a tender, tentative nine days together before they part ways. Over the course of the summer, Eva confronts issues that help to shape her into the woman she will become, and her cold disposition toward her father and her unwillingness to empathize with her mother both soften over the course of the book. Cyril is a spiritual man who talks often of God and forgiveness, and he influences Eva during this critical summer in ways that resonate throughout the work. Rector does an admirable job of narrating the inner lives of his characters, including those of a teenage girl, a woman supporting her imprisoned husband, and a man nearing the end of a life spent in the wilderness. He treats them all with care, never allowing any of them—even Datus, the town drunk—to descend to the level of stereotype. Although the novel has tragic elements and fairly mature themes, it’s still suitable for young teenagers to read. Indeed, the guidance Cyril gives Eva comes through so strongly that it may help young people struggling with finding their own places in the adult world.
A gentle, masterful exploration of growing up and coming to terms with the past.