Summer State of Mind by Jen Calonita
Summer has finally arrived and fifteen-year-old Harper McCallister intends to spend her days at the mall shopping or by the pool at her country club. But after receiving her latest heart-stopping credit card bill, Harper's parents makes other plans, and ship her off to camp.
Suddenly, the clueless yet ever-popular Harper is the new girl at the bottom of a social ladder she can't climb in wedge sandals and expensive clothes. She seems to be winning over super-cute camp "Lifer" Ethan, though, and if she can manage to make a few friends--and stay out of trouble--she just might find a whole new summer state of mind.
A fresh and funny summer-camp companion novel to Jen Calonita's hit Sleepaway Girls. (Goodreads)
A fun, light YA Contemporary read just in time for the spring/summer season - Summer State of Mind will definitely please fans of Calonita's as well as be a great choice for others who enjoy YA Contemporary. This Contemp YA novel takes place at a sleep away camp over summer break, and explores teenage identity, fitting in, and friendships.
Having already read Calonita's Belles series, I was immediately interested when I heard she had a new offering available and I went and ordered it from Amazon right away. Having only ever heard of Calonita in reference to her Belles series, I wasn't aware until after I read the book that this is technically the second in the Whispering Pines series. However, if you haven't yet read the first book have no fear - this one reads like a stand-alone and from what I've been told features mostly new characters and an independent plot. I always enjoy a "series" where each book might take place in the same world, and overlap characters, but each can stand as an independent read - so right away that gets points from me.
I really enjoyed the read - it was just what I was looking for: light, fun, quick, and summer-y. Having never been a summer sleep away camp attendee (the most I've ever done was Girl Scout camps) - I can say the book paints a pretty fantastic picture - I definitely wanted to go back and do a summer session in high school at Whispering Pines! The author does a great job of making it sound pretty fantastic, even with a main character who dislikes the outdoors, camping, bugs, anything athletic, etc. - and as a girl who isn't overly athletic myself, it still sounded fun!
I think what stood out for me the most while I was reading (and makes me want to force my high school aged little sis to read this) would be the topics that are the focus of the book. The story's central themes involve friendship, identity, fitting in, and learning what you value. I enjoyed that the main character, Harper, is on a journey (whether she realizes and/or wants to be) of self-discovery and growth. Harper starts off pretty annoying, she has some clearly redeeming qualities (you can tell her hearts in the right place), however she is pretty superficial and waaaay to focused on all the wrong things.
I enjoyed watching Harper progress and learn to adapt to new experiences, try new things, and begin to find herself in the process. It was nice to watch her develop a friendship with Lina at camp, and see how their friendship grows and what Harper learns about being a friend from this. It was also refreshing to read a YA Contemp where the primary focus was not on the romance, although romance did play a small role as well.
Generally, I really enjoyed this read and it fit with what I was expecting and looking for. A few wishes I might have had about the book would have to be around Kate and Margo (Harper's friends from home). I really didn't like Kate (for the entire book!), but Margo I felt was more like Harper: likable if given a push away from people like Kate. I wish we had gotten more closer around what Harper's next move was in terms of her 'friendships' with Margo and Kate and how the realizations she had made at camp would impact her at home. It would have been nice to have some closure around that situation.
Overall, I'd say it's a great summer read and I would definitely recommend picking it up if you're looking for a fun beach read. I know I'll definitely be looking into this other book that takes place at Whispering Pines.
The Art of Lainey - Paula Stokes
Belles - Jen Calonita
My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
Biggest Flirts - Jennifer Echols
4 out of 5 Doxies - Definitely worth a read, an author you can count on for a satisfying read!