They said it couldn’t be done, but geeky sophomore Lauren Carlson transformed herself into a popular girl after moving to a new school half-way across the country. Amazing what losing your braces and going out for cheerleading will do. Only trouble is, the popular crowd is wearing on Lauren’s nerves and she can’t wait to return to summer camp where she’s valued for her brain instead of her handsprings. She misses her old friends and most of all, her long time camp-only boyfriend, Seth. This year she intends to upgrade their relationship to year-round status once she’s broken up with her new, jock boyfriend, Matt. He doesn’t begin to know the real her, a girl fascinated by the night sky who dreams of discovering new planets and galaxies.
But Matt isn’t giving her up without a fight. As he makes his case to stay together, Lauren begins to realize his feelings run deeper than she ever would have guessed. What if the guy she thought she was meant to be with forever isn’t really The One? Returning to Camp Juniper Point was supposed to ground her uprooted life, but she’s more adrift than ever. Everything feels different and soon Lauren’s friends are turning on her and both guys question what she really wants. As summer tensions escalate, Lauren wonders if she’s changed more than she thought. Will her first big discovery be herself?
This is the first collaboration between sisters-in-law Joanne and Karen Rock and these two ladies did not disappoint! When Joanne first made the announcement on Facebook asking for reviewers for her new YA(Young Adult) novel I jumped at it because 1.) I love giving my opinions about books, and 2.) I’ll be honest, I love getting free books. Once I agreed to review it I was a little intimidated because I have not read a YA book since I was one, so I was not sure I would know what to look for. Camp Boyfriend eased by trepidation ten fold. It was such a fun read!
With her life in complete upheaval Lauren is thrilled to escape her overbearing mother, wedding-obsessed sister, and father who is never there to go to summer camp, her yearly ritual. She’s ready for normalcy and the comfort of her friends but that is far from what she gets. With two boyfriends fighting over her, her “friends” judging her new self, and feeling like an complete outcast it is hardly the summer that Lauren expected.
Camp Boyfriend reminds us what it was like being a teenager. Even though it is a contemporary novel, the story itself is timeless. No matter your age, you can relate to Lauren and the rest of the fun, honest, and charming cast.
Lauren is smart, funny, sweet and isn’t afraid to be sassy when the occasion calls for it, and with two cute boys fighting over her, the occasion calls for it more often than she expects. She makes a seamless and natural transition of figuring out who she is during camp. When she arrives she’s trying to hold onto her old “geeky” self and by the end of camp she realizes that she can be both geek and popular girl. She’s completely torn between two guys: Matt, her current boyfriend from back home in Texas, and her camp boyfriend(hence the clever title), Seth. The conflict that Lauren feels for these two guys is believable as well. We have all been torn between two people at some point in our lives so it’s easy to relate to Lauren’s situation. I knew from the get-go that I didn’t care for Seth because he was so wishy-washy about Lauren. He wasn’t a bad guy, you could just tell he wasn’t the one for her.(Or maybe I’m just partial to Matt. Maybe it could be compared to Team Edward or Team Jacob…I was Team Edward by the way…)
Two words for the scene in the dug out: Holy cow! (that’s the PG version, since this is a YA book review). The scene was hot and while reading it I was thinking, “Are they going to have sex? I didn’t think you can do that in a YA book?” but they didn’t and I was actually relieved because I knew that Lauren was not ready, which just shows Rock’s excellent character building. I got to know Lauren enough as a character to know she wasn’t ready for such a huge step. I was actually surprised at the amount of steam(especially between Matt and Lauren, which was quite alright with me because I liked Matt.) but it wasn’t graphic or distasteful. It was definitely okay for the audience it was targeting. Although, I think anyone under fourteen may not understand some of the conflicts, or be comfortable with the intimate scenes.
Rock did an excellent job displaying the true personalities of teenager. Some curse and after reading the first “damn” I had to remind myself of that fact and it makes them more human. What teen boy or girl hasn’t said a few four letter words whenever their parents weren’t around but wouldn’t dare say the same words in front of their folks in fear of being grounded for a month? The relationship between Lauren and the girls in the Divas Den was very realistic(all of the relationships were) and took me back to high school and reminded me of how cady and hurtful those cliches can be. I was actually pretty surprised at how mean the Munchies Manor girls were and such little compassion they showed towards Lauren. People change but teenagers aren’t always emotionally mature enough to handle it. (Another thing Rock brilliantly displays in the book.) They aren’t cookie cutters and don’t instantly get over their problems, which added to the story. I wondered how Lauren would handle certain situations, if Matt would forgive her and if she would make up with her friends. Even the “bitchy” Divas were good characters and well fleshed out. Me wanting to smack them for being so rude was definitely a good thing, because it showed how ugly they were and isn’t that the point, to dislike the villain?
This book was awesome and I will definitely keep a look out for the other books in the series. I want to know what happens to these characters and watch them grow into adults.
Visit J.K. Rock’s site at http://www.campboyfriend.net and look for the next Camp adventure in December, Camp Christmas.
Rating: A- It’s a Keeper which means I’ll be very careful who I let borrow it.