A troubled girl is sent to an interventionist boot camp where the teens are treated to the sadistic impulses of their counselors.
Though she can't clearly recall her mother's and sister's deaths in the devastating tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in 2004, Ava has felt the effects of their absences—both she and her father, Toby, are emotionally stunted, the happiness drained out of their lives. Now 16, she's beginning to recall moments of that fateful day in Thailand, on what was supposed to be the perfect holiday. When she remembers, she blacks out, though her father thinks she's doing drugs. After what appears to be a suicide attempt on the train tracks, Toby sends Ava to Mount Hope, a kind of tough-love recovery center for teens. Although it looks like a New England summer camp to visitors, the reality is grim. The teens, some of whom have serious mental health issues, are routinely deprived of food and water, are shamed and hit, and are sent to solitary confinement when they rebel. In therapy, they're encouraged to lie so that when their parents read their journals, the efficacy of the treatment will ensure a few more months at Mount Hope. When Toby is finally allowed to visit, he's dismayed by the cultish brutality of the place and takes Ava out. The second half of the novel focuses on the real work Toby and Ava have to do to heal from their family tragedy, one they've been trying to ignore for years. Holed up in their old Maine vacation house, Ava builds a tentative friendship with James, an artist who is their offseason caretaker, while Toby works to get Mount Hope shut down.
With its young heroine and sensitive examination of adolescents in crisis, this would do well to also find a teen audience.