BFFs Emma, Jo, Skylar and Maddie meet up at Camp Nedoba the year after their last summer at the traditional camp, intending to renew their personal vows of loyalty to each other and to enjoy a nostalgic week of s’mores and summer fun.
The lifelong friendships start to crack under the strain of very real adult dilemmas caused by boyfriend trouble, deception and betrayal. The girls are forced to examine their summer-camp relationships through the prism of their increasingly complex lives. Each of the four harbors a secret that is revealed at an inopportune moment. Middle-class Maddie has invented a wealthy family; Skylar doesn’t get along with her demanding father; Emma has a secret, unrequited passion for one of the boys at camp; tomboy Jo, the daughter of the camp owner, realizes that being the life and soul of camp administration is not helping her image in the boyfriend stakes. However, in the end, friendship trumps all, and each girl finds her own resolution to life’s gnarly problems. The chirpy narrative, though introduced in Emma’s first-person, alternates its third-person focus from girl to girl and is punctuated by flashbacks to earlier summers. Despite orienting chapter headers, the lack of differentiation of flashbacks from the present-day story is sometimes confusing.
In the end, this debut feels long and may not contain enough real substance to appeal to even the most avid of summer-camp fans. (Fiction. 12-16)