Title: The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
Author: Kim Fu
“She turned and pressed her face into his back until his warmth and smell blotted out all thought, until she stopped wondering how long love could be enough, how long it could count as meaning, how long it could structure her days”
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore is a novel which centres on an event at a summer camp, and shows how it affects the lives of those involved in the years which follow. The narrative jumps between the day of the event, which happens when the protagonists kayak out to an unknown island, while on a summer camp, and the adult lives of the five girls who were there – Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina, and Siobhan. The plot comments on the intricacies of friendship and the inevitability that everyone has something in their past that they’re trying to escape. The question is, whether they’ll let their past haunt them, or manage to overcome it.
I really enjoyed the feel of this novel, it kind of felt like a collection of short stories, because their lives are all so different and only connected by this one event. The narration skips between them in an almost haphazard fashion, just giving us a taste of who they’ve grown into. Fu did a really amazing job of making all of the characters, and their stories, so unique, and it was so interesting to see how the event affected them as adults. They adult stories were even more tumultuous than the fateful day at Camp Forevermore, and I felt myself rooting for them as individuals in their adult lives, as I did for their survival when they were children.
The way the dialogue of the characters as children, compared to when they were adults was done, was very plausible; Fu really managed to capture the innocent, ignorance, and optimism of children, and the weathered cynicism of the same people as adults. I really felt like I got to know the five girls because I knew their childhood, their dreams, and their futures. I also love how we only see a snippet of their life, almost like a snapshot of their existence, and then leave them abruptly to continue with it.
The whole novel had a very Lord of the Flies feel to it because the narratives from the eventful day show how ruthless and cruel children can be. Their determination to survive coupled with their inability to not know how to, made the Camp Forevermore chapters more thrilling because I just did not know how it was going to pan out. Obviously we know they’ll survive, because we’re reading about them in their later life, but it was more about how they survived which intrigued me.
Overall Fu does a great job at creating five narrators whose lives are all somehow affected by this childhood trauma. She is able to tap into the mind of children, while also showing how they never let go of that sense of abandonment, even as adults. It’s a well written, gripping, and empathetic novel, with a compelling and thought-provoking ending for all the characters. Would definitely read Fu’s writing again!
Thank you to Legend Press for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.