Ever since my daughter started reading novels as part of her school curriculum, I’ve read them with her. Not for her, mind you, but rather at the same time that she was reading them. I did this to stay in touch with her school work and to be able to help her if she was ever “stuck” on a project or assignment.
What I found was that I actually enjoyed the young adult literature genre. When I was asked if I’d be interested in reading and reviewing Ofer Aronskind’s “Summer Sleep-Away”, I gladly accepted. I am drawn to books with summer themes during the summer, and this book seemed like the quintessential summer read.
“Summer Sleep-Away” has themes that are native to just about everyone, no matter your age. We can all relate to some of the central themes and plots throughout “Summer Sleep-Away”. The one recurring theme that I could most relate to was the one where Ari was constantly having to do things and go places he didn’t want to do or go. specifically going to sleep-away camp.
The main character Mattie Kleinfeld, just as each of us often does although reluctantly, steps on to the camp bus and is on his way. The bus ride isn’t an enjoyable one. He thinks he won’t make any friends or have any fun. Once at camp, he gets the bunk that’s in the absolute worst shape all of them in his cabin. But soon Mattie’s luck turns around. His bunk is quickly upgraded with a new mattress and his cubby is promptly repaired.
This book brings back many fond memories of my adolescence. The nervousness about making new friends. The self-consciousness about everything I did, every move I made. Experiencing that scary yet exhilarating feeling of being away from home. Rejoicing in the fact that maybe your parents were right for sending you away. The book is complete with all the rites of passage of our teenage years.
Mattie experiences these and more, and whether you are 15 or 50, “Summer Sleep-Away” is completely relatable book. In fact, both my daughter and I were thrilled with this book. She especially loves books where friendships are formed and flourish. I loved reading about all of Mattie’s adventures while at camp including swimming, fishing, hiking, and even having his first girlfriend.
But it’s not until Mattie and his friends happen upon a clue that changes everything for Mattie. Without offering any plot spoilers, Mattie and his friends set out on a camp adventure that gives Mattie some clues about his background and strengthens his bonds with his camp buddies.