Stormy emotional weather and unforeseen events rock a summer camp in the Berkshires.
In a pair of chapters set in 2000 that form a prelude to this novel, we meet Rachel and Fiona at 13. Rachel is the daughter of a struggling single mom, born as the result of her mother’s longtime affair with a married man; summers at Camp Marigold are one of the few benefits her largely absent father offers to his secret second family. Fiona, from a much wealthier background (her parents met at Marigold when they were 9), has been Rachel’s best friend since she started there. The rest of the book takes place in 2006, and its 12 chapters rotate among these characters and other counselors and campers. First up is Fiona’s younger sister, Helen, who makes and loses a good friend in the latter part of seventh grade. Fortunately, she has camp to look forward to. Fiona, now at college in Connecticut and miserable about gaining the freshman 15, and Rachel, who goes to the University of Michigan and looks better than ever, are both back as counselors. Yonatan from Israel and Chad from the U.K. are among those who go to a Super-8 motel to party with them on their day off. Sheera, one of the only nonwhite campers, is at camp on scholarship and will never quite blend in…and then a shocking accident causes her to go home before summer’s end. The fallout from that event casts a shadow over the rest of the summer, deeply affecting British counselors Mo and Nell as well as Rachel and Fiona. Meanwhile, the camp director, Jack, divorced and lonely, will find that partying with the counselors isn’t such a great idea. Despite the escalating problems, neither the characters nor the reader will be prepared for what happens on the last day of the season.
Berman’s debut recalls the beloved teen and adult novels of Judy Blume, both in topic and prose style: simple, powerful, unafraid to confront serious issues.