Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Last Summer of the Camperdowns

by Elizabeth Kelly
Aug 20-Sept 9, 2013

Alas, my last book of the summer was appropriately titled. I hate the end of summer. I'm probably the only person on the planet who loathes the fall. Darker, quieter mornings sans chirping birds; cooler, earlier nights when socks are required. Awful. Not for me. Time to start hibernating.

When I finished this book a few weeks ago, I had so many thoughts and a lot to say for this post. But I quickly dismissed this book and apparently my opinions along with it. What I do remember is feeling that Kelly tried to cram too many side stories into the book instead of focusing on the one or two that could have really been better developed. But I also have nothing but praise for her crisp, smart dialog and her ability to transport the reader to a better place with her metaphors:

"His voice sounded like a graham cracker tastes."

Doesn't that sentence just make you sigh? I love it. Sentences like that are what kept me going through to the end, even when I felt the book had lost its way. I read a review someone wrote that said the momentum of the book couldn't hold up after the first few chapters, and I couldn't agree more.

Starting out in present day, Riddle Camperdown, runs into the elusive Harry Devlin at a party, having gone 20 years since last seeing him. He proceeds to walk past her and out the door without a word, and thus the tone is set. The reader is then whisked back to 1972, when Riddle is 13. For the most part we remain here, but then suddenly we're drawn into WWII while the author tries to make parallels with Riddle and her father, Camp. The whole time I wanted to rejoin present day and find out why Harry walked out the door. This gets wrapped up in the last 50 pages of the book, and that's what disappointed me. The relationship between Harry and Riddle never felt fully fleshed out to me. Or maybe I just wanted more? Or really what I don't like is trying to mix mystery, drama, romance and coming-of-age all in one book? And don't even get me started on how much I detested Riddle's mother, Greer. Kudos to Kelly for evoking such strong emotions.

No regrets on this one, just a wish for something more.

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