The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore / Kim Fu
Toronto: HarperCollins, c2018.
This recent novel caught my eye with its evocative cover -- then the blurb -- I read it over the weekend and really enjoyed it!
It follows five girls — Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina and Siobhan — as they head off to an all-girl sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest.
But there isn't much detail about the day to day camp experience itself -- quite quickly the story gets to the point at which the whole camp is going off on small groups on an overnight kayaking trip. This group of girls shortly finds themselves stranded, no adult to help, lost on a forested island they know has a town somewhere... but where?
Their interactions, reactions, and decisions shape the story, as their stranded experience is interspersed with chapters which one by one explore each of the girls' adult lives. Each of them is affected by this experience; the trauma lasts into adulthood and exhibits itself in different ways.
It was a gripping read for a few reasons. The children and the fact of being lost is told in raw and realistic detail; we want to know what is going to happen to them. But it also deepened the story to read the complexity of all five girls' adult lives, bit by bit. It's almost like a novel in short stories, except that the unconnected adults are very connected indeed by the framing story.
The characters are all interesting; racial, social & economic diversity are shown in Fu's choice of characters and the worlds they inhabit. They are brave, bold, bossy, powerful, scared, quiet, strong, jealous, happy, jostling for position -- they are rounded characters. It's a realistic setting and I enjoyed how the stories wove together.
If I have one complaint, it's that the book feels a bit too short. Like there should have been more about some of the characters. And more about the camp itself. It was running along strongly, but the last few pages, to me, were a bit of a letdown.
But this is a great new release, and if you read it too, I'd be glad to hear your take on it. It's quite different from her other novel I've read - but never reviewed - (For Today I Am A Boy) but has the same focus on the internal lives of her characters.