Author: Sarah Combs
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2014
Rating: 4.5 stars
I'm not really sure how to summarize this book with any justice, so I'll keep it brief. Gloria goes to Geek Camp to experience life on a college campus, with the ultimate plan of escaping Kentucky with her best friend for college. While there, she meets a bunch of new people whom she judges harshly at first, but eventually comes to be good friends with them. Most of all, she grows close to the people in her chosen "major" for the summer, forging bonds that, though strong, are not necessarily easily gained.
There is so much to love about this book. Combs managed to make me pick up a highlighter and highlight quotes. I never do that. I've never been someone who picks out quotes from literature unless I'm writing an English paper. But Combs' prose is lovely and exquisite in places. Not everywhere, though; everywhere else it just felt real to me. We get genuine, believable, real dialogue (and inner monologue) from Gloria and her friends.
This book is quiet and meandering at times, with no great amount of plot or conflict, but I think it's the better for it. It's a character-driven book, and if the reader is also going to college, it might make them take a closer look at their plan post and evaluate to see if it is actually the right path for them.
There were a few issues I had, mostly that some strings of the story didn't seem fully developed. Gloria mentions in the beginning about how the coal-vs-solar-energy debate would become extremely important to how her summer shaped out, but it didn't really pan out that way to me. It certainly played a part, but the importance didn't seem as high as I originally expected it to. I also thought the way the ending played out was a little weird too magical realism for the rest of the story. But those are small quibbles to an otherwise excellent book.
Basically, I loved this book. I highly recommend this to you if you like realistic fiction and young adult literature.