Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1030
engaging coming-of-age style book
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
JUST A BOY AND A GIRL IN A LITTLE CANOE is a YA contemporary fiction that is primarily about character growth and finding your own way. Sam has just finished her freshman year at NYU. She agreed to come back and be a camp counselor at the summer camp she had attended when she was 11 and had been horribly bullied. She made this decision after running into someone she had known from back then and saw it as a second chance to overcome the long-lasting effects of the bullying she has carried during her life. It also gives her a chance to do something related to education, which she is studying.

Her long-term (almost a year) boyfriend had plans to backpack around Europe, a trip for which she was not invited, and this also keeps her busy while he is away. Once at camp, she throws herself into being a great counselor to the 8-year-olds (called Juniors) she works with. She also finds herself attracted to a guy she knew when she attended years before and she is dealing with her feelings of previously being bullied and making sure that does not happen to anyone else.

What I loved: This book was highly readable, and I finished it in a couple sittings. The plot moves smoothly and quickly. There are a couple major topics handled in this book that are really valuable to include- bullying and slut shaming. As the previous victim and current witness to these, Sam takes actions that I found really great examples, such as confronting the bullies and expressing the problems. She also goes to an authority figure (her boss) and lays it out for her to help stop these things from happening.

This book really focused on personal growth, and in that way, it did a great job. The Sam who left camp was not the same Sam who went to camp. I will add a warning that there is definite cheating and a lot of excuses/discussion about this. I found that it really tracked with Sam's character development, as she seeks to define herself away from her boyfriend and the labels that have held her back. She definitely has some maturing to do, and we watch some of this process during the book. However, this is a difficult topic and so may turn some readers away (so it is good to know before going into it).

Final verdict: Highly devourable and full of summer joy, JUST A BOY AND A GIRL IN A LITTLE CANOE is a YA contemporary of character growth. With important topics like bullying and slut shaming handled well, this is a great book about maturing and facing your fears.
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