Truly, Madly, Amy by Kerry Wilkinson
Picture this: it’s 1999, and Joe stares down a lonely, boring teenage summer. His put-upon older sister finds him a meagrely-paying job at a summer camp, and, like teenagers at summer camp do, he falls in love with camp counsellor Amy. It’s a classic boy-meets-girl story, with the twist of Joe’s grief over his dead dad, his ne’er-do-well friends, his mom’s apparent agoraphobia, and his teenage rage at all of these problems.
Amy is unattainable in that hot, intelligent, popular girl way, but Joe’s got that “bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks” appeal, and they ultimately give in to one another. But, they don’t ride off into the sunset.
Instead, Joe struggles through his chaotic home life, trying to keep it separate from the magic of camp and Amy. Of course, it all spills over, but, spoiler alert, Amy is understanding. And then summer ends, and the two fall apart like teenagers at summer camp do.
This is a slow, character-driven story — a little too slow for me. I didn’t connect with the characters enough to worry about what would happen to them. It tries at nostalgia and romance and that classic teen summer feeling of having the whole world out in front of you, but the pacing is a slog, and it feels like nothing happens in this book.
When you read the description in the blurb, that’s what you’ll get and nothing more. A kid works at summer camp, meets a girl, and falls in love. There’s no big twist, shocking moment, or lesson learned, and the characters are bland and predictable.
A quick fast-forward through time at the book’s conclusion is somewhat jarring, especially with Covid references jammed in, but I understand that people want tied-up endings from a fluffy book. And that’s what this is: a very superficial book. If you like sweet, British-tinged teen romance, you’ll get it here. It’s not a bad book, but it’s not my kind of read.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.