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    Re-discover your love of reading

    Every now and then you get the chance to connect with a book, to find a story and a group of characters that tickle all the happy, nostalgic parts of your brain and takes you back to places you thought were gone forever. Regardless of genre, regardless of what age group the book is targeted at, I think that it is always a pleasure to be able to read something where the writer's obvious love for their words just drip off the page. When you get a book from that writer that speaks to your own experiences and memories of childhoods long since passed, it's even more of a rare pleasure to come across. I have written this before, actually I believe it was in my review of Darla Decker Hates To Wait but I think one of the hardest things for a writer to do well is to write believable characters who are children. I know this seems like it should be easy and straight forward but when you read someone who really knows what they are doing, the difference is night and day. As adults, we lose a lot of what makes us who we are as children. Where once, our lives could change dramatically from year to year, as adults we pretty much settle down into a regular routine that can go on for years without any major changes. We stop living in the moment and instead start obsessing over what might happen tomorrow. The point is that our priorities and our outlook change and it's hard to get back into that mentality of being a child. As a result, many writers create children who are basically just miniature adults. They have incredibly insightful views on the world and are so sharp and witty, you'd think that they had an entire team of professional writers providing their lines. McHugh creates children that are three dimensional. They are flawed and make mistakes, they are victims and heroes and the whole way through, you find yourself rooting for them. You see everything through their eyes and you believe that you are seeing the world through the eyes of a child, not an adult trying to imagine what childhood used to be like. You stop seeing the book as McHugh's words and instead see the world as Darla sees it, as well as all of her challenges growing up in a world that she is trying to understand. I only went to camp for one year as a child but I always regretted not getting to do it more often. The experiences in the book really hit home for me and my memories of camp. First, it was the fear and dread at the notion of sleeping in a strange place with a bunch of kids I didn't know. Then, somehow, I ended up making great friends that, with the exception of one person, I would never see again. And even that one person who would end up in the same Junior High school as me, I didn't get along with as well as we did at camp. It was like the camp was this microcosm within my life and the people and experiences would always and only ever exist there. Even though my experiences at camp were limited to one year, the story McHugh tells speaks strongly to those memories and in a way, it was like my own chance to go back to summer camp. McHugh's strength is in her characters and this book is no exception. I found myself relating to Darla despite the many years that separate me from the generation which she would be a part of. I had a lot of fun reading the first book in this series, an experience that was repeated with this book and I look forward to the next. I find that writers often have difficulty in just being a reader. Often we find ourselves dissecting books and seeing the narrative flaws, sometimes without even meaning to. So to be able to find a book in which we can forget that, sit back and remember why we fell in love with reading in the first place is an experience to be savored. As a reviewer, I don't like to put a lot of description of the story into my review. I know that as a reader, I want to be able to experience all of those things for myself. So if you are reading this, trying to decide if this book is for you, I say go for it. If you haven't read the first book in the series, you should do that as well. Words are the tonic that can make everything feel just a little bit better. Words crafted by a master of the art form are something you should seek out and make a part of your life. Trust me.
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