Page 45 Review by Stephen
Hope Larson is probably the best friend anyone could ever have. She really does understand, and any girl or boy lucky enough to know her will benefit enormously from her intimate knowledge of how young friendships operate, from her compassion and her ability to communicate both. Or they can buy or be bought this book and it will all become so much clearer: the tugs of competitive friends, jealous of each other; how easy it is to get stuck in the middle; how difficult it is to resist the influence of strong personalities to compromise another friendship you really don't want to; how you can mean well, but still get it wrong; how horrible it is to hear by mistake those you thought close bitching about you; and then, what do you do with that unsolicited knowledge? All this and more in a book totally in love with the natural world around us, and alive with the imagination both of its cast and its creator.
Abby has been looking forward to this year's summer camp with increasing excitement and the promise of hanging out with her older friend Rose. Unfortunately Rose is now a Cabin Assistant with duties that take her away, although she tries to check in when she can. Beth arrives with pierced ears and ambitions to start a band called Glittergloom; she bonds with Zoë over their shared love of Spite Storm with its gaunt lead singer who makes them drool; Deni on the other hand feels destitute without her i-pod and hates the countryside, but it hates her back, infesting her with chiggers which itch away under her skin leaving her scratching herself to death at night. In her place arrives beautiful Shasta, an eighth Cherokee and recently struck by lightning. It's Shasta who introduces her to Teal, and from that point on all Abby can really think about is him. <sigh> But being a newcomer into established friendships is never easy and Shasta is quickly singled out by a jealous Beth who bitches incessantly and puts Abby in an awful position. It's going to be one of those summers.
Filled with boy-talk, book-talk, band-talk, early unrealistic crushes ("My boyfriend is a cowardly asshole who dumped me in a letter because he was too scared to do it to my face online"!), late-night horror stories, trekking, swimming and even a taboo or two like being worried about whether your period is going to coincide with being away from home, this is an enchanting evocation of childhood. The writing and art are as one, panels sliding from what is seen to what is more widely perceived with question marks floating on the lake or Beth's face glittering expressionistically under Abby's star-struck admiration; with word balloons that waft in the wind and hair that curls into the starry night; and with a very funny template that pops into Abby's head, as she tries to work out something comforting thing to say.