At what point does childhood end and adulthood begin? Mandy Berman’s evocative debut novel captures, through the lens of summer camp, a place that only appears to be untouched by the passing of time, both the thrills and pain of growing up.
Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin used to treasure their summers together as campers at Camp Marigold. Now, reunited as counselors after their first year of college, their relationship is more complicated. Rebellious Rachel, a street-smart city kid raised by a single mother, has been losing patience with her best friend’s insecurities; Fiona, the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family, envies Rachel’s popularity with their campers and fellow counselors. For the first time, the two friends start keeping secrets from each other. Through them, as well as from the perspectives of their fellow counselors, campers, and families, we witness the tensions of the turbulent summer build to a tragic event, which forces Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts—and the adults they’re becoming.
A seductive blast of nostalgia, a striking portrait of adolescent longing, and a tribute to both the complicated nature and the enduring power of female friendship, Perennials will speak to everyone who still remembers that bittersweet moment when innocence is lost forever.
I enjoyed the overall theme of this book and the portrayals at the end but otherwise, this was another readable YA book.
The blurb does not lie in that Berman really captures the beauty of summer camp, both for younger kids and for the older counselors, young adults coming into their own. The inclusion of foreign counselors made the book all the more interesting for me.
I enjoyed the way this dealt with race and issues of socioeconomic status within the younger campers. Seeing how this played out, seeing how the scholarship kids made it and didn’t, was important and added a layer of depth. I was definitely rooting for those kids.
A perennial is unchanging and never truly ends. I adored the way that this theme recurred through the book and how it ultimately came to fruition and truth at the end. This dealt with growing up very well and really provoked thought about youth and how it fades.
If you adore the summer camp vibe or need a solid YA, this is a good contender. Ultimately though, the theme was the only point that made this book stand out.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.