How about a little side trip to YA land? Sure. The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane was a Kindle First book for the month of November and it was a good surprise. The story takes place at a summer camp for troubled teenagers in Michigan, Camp Padua. The kids have a wide variety of issues, from depression to suicidal rage, which can hopefully be mitigated by arts and crafts, swimming, archery with non-dangerous arrows and very well meaning grad student counselors who knock themselves out trying to ‘listen’.
This set up might sound precious, but believe me it is not. These kids are not confused by their issues, they own them and they are in no big hurry to fix them. The poor counselors are mocked mercilessly for their inexperienced empathy and misplaced understanding, but not in a cruel way. Our main little hot mess is Zander from Arizona. She appears to be pretty high functioning, she gets good grades and is on the swim team and has a boyfriend, but we soon realize that she is only going along with what she thinks she should be doing. In reality, she has completely shut off all of her feelings. Obviously she is hiding something, and we really just have to lie back and wait for it to come out. In fact, everyone’s secrets and lies come out – just never actually to any of the counselors, who slog along having no idea if progress is being made.
Zander’s bunkmate is Cassie, who describes herself as manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Cassie is tough and uninviting and rude, so naturally Zander goes into full fix-it mode to help break Cassie’s protective barrier. And then there is a character that Crane had the audacity to call Grover Cleveland, in a plot point I never actually understood, and who will definitely be played by Miles Teller in the inevitable movie if they hurry up. Grover decides at first sight that he is in love with Zander, and proceeds to wear her down over the summer until she is basically like “okay, whatever” and then they are a couple (in secret, no relationships allowed here) but it’s cute in a Sixteen Candles kind of way.
This book is more Meatballs than Girl Interrupted, and I say that in a very positive way. While there are revelatory and deep emotional moments along the way, the story is ultimately light and easy to escape in to with a satisfactory ending.
Grade – B