Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Finished The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani. After an undisclosed family tragedy, 15 year old Thea is sent away from her rural home in Florida, away from her twin brother Sam and her beloved pony Sasi, to The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in North Carolina. It's the early 1930s and the Great Depression is evident even among the rich and privileged girls who attend the camp. More of a finishing school for equestrian minded girls, the camp is a year round operation. The girls live in cabins, use communal showers and eat together in a large dining hall. Math and science are conspicuously absent from the curriculum.

Thea's arrival at the camp is a bit of a shock to her system. She and her family have lived in their secluded Florida home her whole life. She's never had a friend, other than her cousin Georgie, and never a girl friend. She is used to having the run of their ranch riding, playing, spending most of the day out of doors. She and her brother Sam were schooled at home by their father. She's never been to a school at all before. The sudden change in landscape, climate and girl filled atmosphere takes a bit of getting used to. Thea believes she has been sent here as a punishment for the bad thing she did. Much of the book is told in flashback, leading up to this bad thing. Thea learns to love her life at Yonahlossee and makes her first true friend. She learns to live a life away from her home, her parents and especially her twin, Sam, who she has been so close to up until this time.

This is the most raw coming-of-age book I have read. There were moments when it reminded me of An American Tragedy, not so much in plot, but in the inevitability of youthful mistakes. It was an engrossing read.

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