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The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore (2018)

by Kim Fu

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The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu is a series of interlinked stories about five young women. As young girls, Nita, Andee, Isabel, Siobhan, and Dina arrive at Camp Forevermore in the Pacific Northwest. The girls are ten and eleven years old and are all quite different from one another both culturally and in their personalities. Together they share a difficult experience when things go terribly wrong on an overnight kayaking trip. The story of this camping trip unfolds throughout the book but is inter-cut with stories about each of the girls, from their teenage years and on into their adult lives.

The girls are all affected by this trip well into their adult years and eating disorders, failure to sustain relationships and feelings of low self esteem are all part of their stories. Their stories are told in a sensitive, skillful manner and the author keeps each characters distinct and vivid. I was very taken by The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore and the strengths and weaknesses it revealed. These are stories that I expect will linger in my mind for some time. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Mar 1, 2018 |
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu is a highly recommended collection of stories that are interlinked into a novel.

Camp Forevermore is a sleep-away camp for girls between the ages of nine and 11 that is located in the Pacific Northwest. In 1994 a traumatic event transformed the lives of the five girls involved. The girls, Nita, Andee, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan, set off with a seasoned counselor on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. When they make the trip in a good time, the counselor proposes they paddle on to a big island. It is on this island that the girls are faced with questions and dilemmas that will influence their adult lives.

The novel jumps back and forth in time from the fateful camp experience in 1994 to the lives of the individual girls. The individual stories cover the background of the girls and follow their lives to the present day. You can see where the camp experience altered their present day lives, sometimes in a dramatic fashion. It is also clear that time changes the memories of some of the girls. The harrowing events from 1994 made an indelible mark on all of their psyches, however, the effect the incident had on some of the girls was much more daunting than it was for others. None of them were left unchanged.

This novel really is a series of interlinked short stories. The chapters connecting it all are short parts of the progression of what happened to all of them in 1994. The longer chapters in-between are the stories of their individual lives. Essentially this changes the focus from 1994 and the group of girls at camp to adults who all experienced the camp event years ago. It is an interesting choice of focus, and each girl's story is told in a slightly different way, in a different angle, which seems appropriate considering the girls and their backgrounds are so different.

There is no doubt about Fu's talent as a writer. The novel I read was not the novel I was expecting, but I enjoyed what she gave me enormously. I became immersed in their stories as adults, while waiting to discover exactly what happened to then as children. She writes about the girls and then women in a truthful, honest way. Yes, some of the stories and events do seem predictable, but that could be because they reflect the actual lives of women so closely. Tragedy is often woven into formative stories and so it is here. I do wish more was said of Siobhan and her life. I did want to know more of her thoughts as an adult since she figured so prominently in the 1994 passages.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2018/02/the-lost-girls-of-camp-forevermore.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Feb 15, 2018 |
A summer camp for young girls aged nine to twelve. Mostly rich, but there are also some poor ones granted scholarships so that they can take part, too. The rules have been the same over decades, everything in Camp Forevermore is as it has always been. Part of the camp experience is a kayak tour which the girls complete in small groups and which leaves them on isolated islands for a night. Siobhan, Nita, Andee, Isabel and Dina thus are assigned to the oldest and toughest camp supervisor. Yet, unexpectedly, the girls do not end in the spot they were destined to but find themselves on a different, much larger and completely isolated island, their chaperone dead and they themselves running out of food. Now, the real survival lesson begins.

The idea of a bunch of girls having to face raw nature and survive in unknown territory sounded quite intriguing to me. I anticipated it to be a bit like a girl version of the “Lord of the Flies” and I was curious to read how a group of girls develops under those conditions. Yet, the story of the lost girls is just a part of the novel. Their adventure is broken up by narrations about what happens to the girls later in life, their fate after surviving Camp Forevermore. This not only came a bit unexpected, but also shifted the focus away from the actual story to what such an experience makes with people and how they can never really get over it.

Kim Fu has a very lively style of writing. The characters seem authentic and you quickly get a good idea of their different personalities. I liked her writing most in the parts where the girls struggle to survive, she is great at portraying their fears, hate and desperation. Without any question, the girls’ later lives are also interesting and the author actually did a great job in developing the girls further as adults. However, I would have preferred to read more about Camp Forevermore and the girls desperate situation. ( )
  miss.mesmerized | Feb 14, 2018 |
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