Hi there! Today is the BOOK BIRTHDAY for CAMP PAYBACK, the second book by JK Rock, a sister-in-law writing team. Because Camp Payback references a lot from the first book, CAMP BOYFRIEND, I thought I’d share my impressions of the first book. Both books are solidly YA, and quality contemporary reads. Tomorrow I’ll review CAMP PAYBACK, but first:
About the book:
The summer of Lauren’s dreams is about to get a reality check.
They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school halfway across the country. Amazing what losing her braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t even begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.
But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?
Lauren Carlson has had a tough year. Her family moved from New York to Texas, and suddenly all the expectations/patterns changed. Her dad’s too busy working to hang out, and her mom has instituted a plan to girl-ify this would-be astronomer. It works, but as her junior year draws to a close, Lauren isn’t sure she likes her role as a cheerleader with a football boyfriend. In fact, she can’t wait to dump Matt and return to Seth, the boy at camp she’s dated the past two summers.
Only, Matt has a big surprise. His parents are getting divorced and he needs some space. So, he’s going to the same camp as Lauren. Yay!
Lauren is crushed, but wants to be a good friend to Matt–who is clearly dealing with some bad stuff. So, she never bothers to break up with him. Or, tell him about her long-standing connection to Seth. Imagine both boys’ frustration: Seth’s been looking forward to reuniting for nine months and “his girl” shows up with a boyfriend, meanwhile all the campers know about Lauren and Seth–and aren’t shy about enlightening Matt.
Add to this angsty-issue the pressure Lauren gets from her cabinmates. These girls have spent summers together for years, but the NEW Lauren just blows away her more homely buddies. They are suspicious, and ticked off that she could hurt Seth. Any overture toward friendship with any of the high-gloss chic Diva campers lands Lauren in heat, as well.
This romp of a story comes with a heaping helping of “caught at the worst possible moment” coincidences. I think Lauren was the most timing-challenged would-be glam queen in all of summer camp. Any time she was in even the most innocent of compromising positions, she was witnessed–by friends, enemies, or one of her suitors.
Matt wants to really work on their relationship, and Lauren decides that’s for the best–in the process learning far more about the championship athlete in two weeks than she had in their nine months together. For his part, Matt is totally comfortable with the dressed-down version of his glamour girl, while Seth sometimes has trouble reconciling the chic Lauren with his memories.
There’s a lot of camp drama and shenanigans pitting Lauren between her girls and the Divas, and in the end there’s a rousing musical number, or two, that help to smooth over the heartaches of camp. At the end of the eight weeks, Lauren returns home for her sister’s wedding having given an invite to one of the two boys.
At the very last second we learn who captured Lauren’s heart. It’s a satisfying read. Lots of mean girl vibes overlap with Lauren’s (sometimes oblivious) efforts to bring both halves of her self into order.i really liked how Lauren decided to take a break from both boys just so she could figure out herself. I kinda felt like this got rushed at the end trying to skim 8 weeks into the book, which made the talent show escapade a little forced, but I loved how open Lauren was, and how she continued to build bridges, despite them all getting washed out.
Also, I really liked the candid conversations these teens had, regarding boys, relationships, and sexual activity. It felt very real. I admired Lauren’s moral compass–she was continually be faced with rivals, and while she seethed internally, she remained neutral allowing Matt and Seth to choose other girls if they so desired. Both boys were hot commodities, and had a flock of girls vying for interest, and yet they never flaunted this at Lauren which I also liked. With both boys being so up-standing and kind, it was clear Lauren would have a real catch no matter what her decision was regarding a boyfriend. The end was what I had expected, and it met my expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed. I think teens will like this book.
Interested? You can find CAMP BOYFRIEND on Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
About these authors:
Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends! 🙂