Title: Summer State of Mind
Author: 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.
When I was younger, I really liked Jen Calonita’s book about sleepaway camp, Sleepaway Girls, so when I heard that there was a new sequel coming out after many years, I decided to give it a shot. While it had some of the fun of the first book, it just wasn’t the same, although that could have been because I think I outgrew the first book after rereading it as well.
From the very beginning, I was unsure about this book. I mean, it starts off with a spoiled girl who tweets all the time and is a bit of a push-over when it comes to one of her best friends (much like the main character in Sleepaway Girls, but in a slightly different way). She doesn’t think she’s spoiled, which is really just more annoying because everyone can see it but her. When she finds out she has to go to camp for the summer, she turns into a bit of a brat. She’s also only 15 and I prefer older protagonists, typically 16-18 (at least in YA books) so it felt weird reading about a 15 year old. So, the beginning didn’t really catch my attention at all, but it was a short book and it was kind of mindlessly entertaining, so I kept going.
The plot is intriguing enough, I suppose. Harper is, as I’ve already mentioned, a pretty spoiled girl, so she’s sent to camp to go back to “Old Harper,” the person she apparently was before her family got rich and moved to a rich city/school. The whole point of the book, therefore, is Harper’s journey to become a genuine person who doesn’t rely on money so much. The story itself isn’t that deep, but there are plenty of moments of friendship and such that are good for younger readers to see in their books.
Harper kind of annoyed me, since she was quite superficial and spoiled. I appreciate the fact that she continues to be true to herself with her love of fashion and hair and such, but it was slightly frustrating when she refused to give sports a chance at all, even when she began to grow as a person. The love interest was cute enough, but kind of generic. It was nice seeing some of the old characters from Sleepaway Girls, who are now at least two or three years older (I’m not quite sure, though, because they never actually make that clear) and there were some nice new characters, especially Harper’s new friend Lina and her little-seen old friend Margo, but there are also some generic “mean girls” that I’m just tired of reading about, so it was a slightly mixed bag.
With a book that takes place at a summer camp, I think it should make me feel like I’m there or wish I were. Did this book do that? Well, I’m not really sure. This book seemed even more fluffy than a lot of the books I like (probably because I feel like the audience is a bit younger), so even thought I read most of it and finished it yesterday, I’m already a little unsure about what I remember. It was like a s’more maybe – it was pretty fun while I was reading it, but I forgot about it afterward (well, that seems slightly insulting to s’mores). My point is, I think the setting drew me in for the most part while I was reading it, but it hasn’t stuck around in my head and made me desperately want to go to camp now or anything.
The Adult Situation
It’s a sleepaway camp, so it’s mostly teenage/young adult counselors keeping an eye on the kids, but I wish there had been more of Harper’s parents because they seemed really interesting. Harper’s dad produces music videos and is always discovering new up-and-coming artists before they get big (and he’s called McDaddy, which is another reason I think this book is a little young for me – I’m pretty sure I haven’t called my dad “Daddy” since I was in early elementary school, and I definitely wouldn’t give him a nickname that incorporates that name) and her mom is a lifestyle blogger. Give me a story about them while their kids are off at camp!
With a slightly annoying protagonist and a kind of generic love interest, the romance wasn’t exactly my favorite thing, but it wasn’t awful either. It was just kind of meh. There were elements of love-hate and banter and such, but nothing that put a lovestruck smile on my face or made me giggle and such.
In a slightly unrelated note, though, it was nice seeing the couple from Sleepaway Girls and finding out what happened to them after the book ended. I’m putting it in spoilers just in case, so just hover over this text to see why I liked that.
Well, as can be expected with a book like this, things end well and Harper learns things and there are romantic developments and such. I know this isn’t descriptive at all, but that’s just kind of how I feel about the book in general, so…
If you were a fan of Sleepaway Girls or other younger YA books, you’ll probably enjoy this book, but it just seemed a little too fluffy and young for me, unfortunately. Fun enough while reading it, but now that it’s done, I’ve already begun to forget it a bit.