I read an ARC of this YA/middle grade title, and I thought it was just OK. Gen’s family goes to a “frontier camp” for vacation, and they are expected to live like people in the 1890’s (ala PBS’s Frontier House, which the author acknowledges as inspiration at the end of the book). Unfortunately, Gen’s broken the rules by bringing along her new cell phone, and her friend back home has set up a blog to record all of Gen’s impressions of the place and the people in the “frontier” community.
Several of the characters were unbelievable. Gen’s dad goes on a three month vacation, not only not having read the brochure about the camp, but also not having listened to anything Gen’s mom told the family about the camp. He’s completely blindsided by the idea that the family has agreed to live like the pioneers, and he doesn’t know what to do about the entire experience. But he stays anyway and spends his days cutting down trees to scare away the bears. Really? Would anyone set off on a three month vacation without knowing anything about where he’s going or what he’ll be doing?
Norah, the daughter of the camp’s proprietors, is incredibly sheltered and naive and at the same time, she acts as if she knows all about human nature and modern technology. Norah isn’t a very likable girl, and she comes across as one of those stereotypical over-protected homeschoolers that I only find in books, not in real life. Only Norah’s so isolated and the friendships she’s made have been so transient that she has become bitter and disagreeable. That’s what life in the 1890’s will do to a healthy American teenager.
Caleb, Gen’s “love interest”, is so nondescript that I have trouble saying anything about him. He wears a leather necklace, and Gen thinks he’s cute.
Watch Frontier House if you want to see what radical historical reenactment will do for and to a normal American family. Read the book as a way to pass a few hours, but not for history or for character development. Publication date for this title from Bloomsbury is May 11, 2010.