REVIEW: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, Kim Fu #BLOGTOUR

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

A group of young girls descend on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets, and camp songs by the fire. Filled with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore traces these five girls—Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan—through and beyond this fateful trip. We see them through successes and failures, loving relationships and heartbreaks; we see what it means to find, and define, oneself, and the ways in which the same experience is refracted through different people. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can't escape.

The main narrative strand of The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore crafts a plot not very unlike the iconic classic survival novel, The Lord of the Flies - a group of children who, through the poor decisions of the adults around them, find themselves alone and abandoned on a desert island. The level of violence does not reach that shown in the Lord of the Flies, nowhere even close, but the palpable desperation felt by the girls, certainly leads them to fall into patterns of behaviour that would have been looked on a little strangely if they had been in the midst of regular society.
But, unlike in the original tale, the artful, sweeping vignettes in this novel that form the rest of the girls’ lives, turn it from a simple tale of impossible situations and their tendency to shift people into barbarity, to one that turns two-dimensional, fight-or-flight, kill-or-be-killed motivations, into three-dimensional human lives.
The time on the island is narrated by Siobhan and, as eleven and twelve year olds are wont to do, she spends most of her time on the island, sectioning her fellow campmates off into various rigid boxes, based on how they have acted during the little time she has known them: Nita as the mean girl, Isabel as the quiet one, Dina as the beautiful one… Kayla as the one who titters and joins in with the teasing. And, if that had been the entirety of the novel then, in the minds of the reader, that is what the girls would have stayed.
But humans have multitudes, they do not fit into boxes.
The lives of the four are so much more interesting, so much more real, that their pithy labels belie and, through sneak peeks into their trials, tribulations and even just the everyday moments that make up the rest of their lives, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore grounds them in the hearts and minds of the book’s readers as truly complex young people. Kim Fu artful use of the sweeping structure of the short novel to dive into the very core of human emotion and motivation deftly explores how one formative moment, the two-or-three-days that were spent on the island, reappear over and over in the lives of the girls and how the past shapes people into the adults they become.

Thanks to NetGalley and Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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