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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Slept Away* by Julie Kraut- young adult book review
Also by Julie Kraut:

Hot Mess: Summer in the City
Slept Away
by Julie Kraut
Grades 9+ 320 pages Delacorte May 2009 Paperback    

Laney Parker is a material girl and proud of it. With summer vacation approaching, she expects to trade her school uniform and class schedule for designer threads and quality shopping time. Not only is her summer activity more socially fulfilling than classes, it also keeps her away from her recently-New Aged mother and the New Age-catalyst, aka her mother’s boyfriend, holistic healer Dr. Mark.

Oh, but Laney’s devoted mother has decided to make up for what she perceives as parental neglect. “Hon, don’t you feel like you’re missing out on so much of your childhood by being raised in the city?” Mom asks before delivering the bombshell – Laney is doomed to attend summer camp in Pennsylvania.

Despite some clever arguments and creative diversions, including a desperate plea to her absentee father, Laney soon finds herself on a bus to Camp Timber Trail. Populated by fashion-challenged losers, Camp Timber Trail nevertheless has a rigid social hierarchy, and Laney’s place is firmly on the bottom rung of the ladder - not that she wants any part of the camp cliques or their bizarre rituals (think beading friendship bracelets!).

Of course, Laney isn’t the only misfit in the woods. In the real world, she would never befriend someone like Sylvie – “She had a unibrow, a triangle of frizzy hair, and a mouth so full of orthodonture that she probably shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes because that much metal could certainly be used as a weapon.” But Timber Trail is not the real world; as far as Laney is concerned, it’s just a slimy swamp on some lost planet in a faraway galaxy, and Sylvie is the closest thing she can find to a friend.

Turns out, a change in physical environment can have odd effects on the mental processes. Sylvie may not look like the trendy friends Laney left behind in the city, but she’s got the smarts, the wit, and the survival tools that perfectly compliment Laney’s skill set. Together they discover that not every rustic setting is filled with losers; in fact, some of the camp’s inhabitants are as appealing as anything in Manhattan.

Slept Away is a fun, fast read full of humor and familiar personalities. Some language and a few situations may upset parents, but teen readers have surely encountered all of it before, if not in their own lives then certainly on television.

Laney is a whiner, no doubt about that, but she also has a charm that is endearing. While the narrative, which is written in Laney’s voice, circles and twists with a mildly annoying perkiness, the story eventually gets itself told in a satisfying manner. Author Julie Kraut takes a stock premise and runs with it, delivering an entertaining story with just the right amount of sermon. Perfect poolside or campfire reading!
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Deborah Adams/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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