Sometimes you don't see yourself until you leave everything familiar and let yourself show up in a completely new place surrounded by completely new people. Gloria Bishop is about to walk into that place. She is headed to Geek Camp in a part of Kentucky she hasn't met before. Gloria grew up in Louisville raised pretty much by her beloved grandmother, GoGo and her Atticus Finch-like father. Gloria's mother was there for the beginning years but then one day she dropped Gloria off at preschool and never came back.
Gloria has a best friend, a great dad, a hole in her heart and a dream of moving to New York. She has lived the last years of her life in a small space only allowing herself to see and connect with a very few people. She hasn't let much of the rest of the world get close. She hasn't bothered to notice much.
It only takes a few days at Geek Camp before Gloria or as her friends call her, Glo, finds herself assigned to a small group of students who will be learning from a teacher named X. Her new roommate, Jessica, a Barbie- look-alike, Chloe, a lesbian, who struggles to be accepted by her peers back in a less progressive part of Kentucky, Calvin who is trying to choose between a scholarship and his roots on his family's beautiful farm, and Mason, aka The Mad Hatter whose family life is as meaningful as an ad in a fashion magazine are going to spend six weeks creating questions, lifting veils, feeling loved and carving out a clearer sense of themselves.
The story is about growing up. The girl starts out as a thin version of herself and changes. She has the courage to see herself and to decide what to keep and what to improve. How many young people take that chance? How many young people accept the narrative of their high school, their family wealth or poverty, the picture they are sold without pushing back and being willing to challenge what their families have long needed to believe and bequeathed to them?
Wonderful books, a teacher who cares, kids who have seen the deep imperfections of their world both socially and personally, and one girl who fights back against love, kids, dogs until the wonder of blue morpho butterflies shows her it can all be real and she can have her share.
261 pages 978-0763667917 Ages 13 and up
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
A coming-of-age debut evokes the bittersweet joys and pangs of finding independence in one unforgettable summer away at "geek camp."
When Gloria sets out to spend the summer before her senior year at a camp for gifted and talented students, she doesn’t know quite what to expect. Fresh from the heartache of losing her grandmother and missing her best friend, Gloria resolves to make the best of her new circumstances. But some things are proving to be more challenging than she expected. Like the series of mysterious clues left by a certain Professor X before he even shows up to teach his class, Secrets of the Written Word. Or the very sweet, but very conservative, roommate whose coal-industry family champions mountaintop removal. Not to mention the obnoxious Mason, who dresses like the Mad Hatter and immediately gets on Gloria’s nerves — but somehow won’t escape her thoughts. Beautifully told by debut author Sarah Combs, this honest and touching story of growing up is imbued with the serene atmosphere of Kentucky’s natural landscape.--from the publisher