A coming-of-age debut evokes the bittersweet joys and pangs of finding independence in one unforgettable summer away at “geek camp.”
When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother and missing her best friend, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected. Like the series of mysterious clues left by a certain Professor X before he even shows up to teach his class, Secrets of the Written Word. Or the very sweet, but very conservative, roommate whose coal-industry family champions mountaintop removal. Not to mention the obnoxious Mason, who dresses like the Mad Hatter and immediately gets on Gloria’s nerves — but somehow won’t escape her thoughts.
Beautifully told by debut author Sarah Combs, this honest and touching story of growing up is imbued with the serene atmosphere of Kentucky’s natural landscape.
This book is—at once—both poetic and substantial. The words weave an eloquent, elegant tale that makes you laugh and cry along with Gloria. It’s comprised of all the wonderful moments that make up childhood, youth, and life in general. It’s made up of the things that you look back on; the memories of a lifetime. It’s introspective, innocent, and hopeful after discovering the vast new world, despite starting off jaded and “SO Over It.”
I’ve been to my own version of a Canadian Geek Camp, so I found this particularly bittersweet. The book captured the feeling perfectly—meeting people who just GET YOU, who don’t care about the pettiness of pop culture and social circles. Meeting people who are passionate about THINGS, even if they’re so vastly different from your own passions. Meeting people who keep an open-mind about your passions, and are willing to hold intelligible conversations about them. Meeting people who are curious and ready to explore the world.
This book was The Breakfast Club (intentionally, I’m sure) meets the Dead Poets Society. It was such an eclectic bunch of people who wouldn’t seemingly fit together, but worked so well. I fell in love with each of them. I loved how their quirks came out little by little, so they didn’t DEFINE the characters—they became afterthoughts, because we got to know each of them so well. In fact, none of the characters fit into neat little stereotypes. They were all so fleshed out and REAL.
There were so many beautiful moments, and Gloria savoured each one: Plato’s Myth of the Cave, having your own “spot” somewhere, passion, wholesome goodness, blackberries, 8-ales, the fourth of July, the Mystery Machine, helicopters, butterflies, sunsets, ideological disputes, real snail mail, stumbling upon something secret, and even downtime in a laundry room.
The book started kind of slowly, but it grew on me. It felt like one of those books that MATTERED, that tried to look into what life is all about… and managing to glean some insight to that genuine human experience.
- Eleanor and Park – Rainbow Rowell
- To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee (duh)
- The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Much Ado About Nothing – William Shakespeare
- On the Jellicoe Road – Melina Marchetta
- When You Were Here – Daisy Whitney
- Love Story – Jennifer Echols (Big City Dreams & Kentucky)