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Review: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

August 29, 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

Fifteen year old Thea Atwell leads a charmed life.  The Depression hasn’t really affected her family – she lives with her parents and twin brother on an isolated citrus farm in Florida and money isn’t a problem.  She doesn’t have much contact with anyone outside of her family, but that’s okay with her because she has everything she wants.  Then the unthinkable happens and her world is shattered.  She is sent away to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in the North Carolina mountains.  Longing for home and her brother, she has to find a way to make this new life work.

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani so I was anxious to read it.  I have to say Thea Atwell is one of the most interesting and complex fifteen year old characters I’ve encountered in a while.  She loved her home and her family but was also curious about other things.  She found herself in a rather disturbing situation and didn’t quite know how to handle it.  Things get out of hand and she ends up in North Carolina, cut off from those she loves.  She didn’t learn from her mistakes, though, or, did she?

The story is told by Thea as an adult, looking back on her life.  It opens as her father is taking her to Yonahlossee.  She hints at the event that caused her to be sent there but tells the story slowly, weaving it in and out of the story of her time at the camp.  DiSclafani does a great job building tension in the book – I needed to know what happened in Thea’s past to have her cut off from her family!

I was impressed with DiSclafani’s writing and liked The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls a great deal, but I didn’t quite love it.  I think that’s just me, though.  This coming of age story is character driven and there were times I wanted a little more action.  Still, it’s a very smart, well written book that is well worth reading.

Review copy provided by Penguin Books.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 29, 2013 5:58 am

    I didn’t love Yonahlossee either, but it was ok. It should have been right up my alley – coming of age, boarding school, illicit romance – but I kind of felt that if I liked horses more, then I would have liked the book more.

  2. August 29, 2013 7:02 am

    If you would have loved it, I would have chased this one down. It sounds like a book that has great characters and a sense of place but these days I need a “wow” in order to pick up a book. Too many others crying for attention!

  3. Beth F permalink
    August 29, 2013 8:20 am

    I liked this one better than you did — I was totally caught up in Thea’s story and I liked the time period.

  4. August 29, 2013 9:07 am

    I think I’d really enjoy this one! The author is a local professor so I’ll definitely be giving it a go no matter what.

  5. August 29, 2013 9:49 am

    Hmm. Since you didn’t love the book, I’m gonna wait on reading it. Sounds interesting enough, but I’m pretty tired of character-driven stories right now.

  6. August 29, 2013 10:16 am

    THANKS for your great review. I have been hearing mixed feelings about it.

    I most likely will not like it if you didn’t. We have similar tastes. 🙂

    I will give it a shot, though. I have it on my shelf.

    Silver’s Reviews
    My Blog

  7. August 29, 2013 10:18 am

    This one wasn’t really on my radar until a very sweet friend sent me a copy out of the blue! It looks great, and I can’t wait to read it.

  8. August 29, 2013 10:22 am

    I’ve been ultra-curious about this book since I first heard about it. I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy soon. I enjoy coming of age tales. A LOT 🙂

  9. August 29, 2013 12:13 pm

    I felt the same way about this one! I wanted to love it since it got so much hype but I just couldn’t. Fantastic review! I like the way you credited the author yet also spoke to reasons why it wasn’t one you loved.

  10. August 29, 2013 1:00 pm

    I had similar feelings as you did. I really liked it (and it stayed with me for awhile) but didn’t quite love it.

  11. August 29, 2013 1:16 pm

    I’m already intrigued about what brings her to the riding camp — too bad there wasn’t enough action to hold your attention.

  12. August 29, 2013 2:21 pm

    My sentiments almost to the word. Readers who enjoyed “Prep” will eat this up. Frankly, I’m a bit over coming-of-age books unless they break new ground. I do think DiSlafani is extremely talented.

  13. August 29, 2013 2:55 pm

    I like coming of age books and the writing style appeals to me. I have the audiobook and hope to fit it in soon.

  14. August 29, 2013 3:53 pm

    I’m not all that big on coming of age stories, so I don’t think this would be right for me.

  15. August 29, 2013 4:04 pm

    I think we’ve all gotten used to books with lots of action!

  16. August 29, 2013 4:22 pm

    I received a copy of this book from Library Thing but don’t remember requesting it. I was curious about it because I haven’t heard too much about it at all. Glad to read your review of it. I wonder why you ending up not loving it. Sometimes, you just do. For me, loving a book comes down to a feeling. More how I feel about the book than how it was written.

  17. August 29, 2013 5:36 pm

    I’ve been thinking I want to read this one sometimes soon. Especially because it has horses in it! You know me- always a sucker for books with animals.

  18. Patty permalink
    August 29, 2013 6:53 pm

    I read it, too, and really loved the dysfunction…lol…and not knowing what Thea did until the end….

  19. August 29, 2013 8:28 pm

    Glad you liked it — me too.

  20. August 29, 2013 10:09 pm

    I was so keen to even know why she was sent away that I was disappointed that it was not mentioned!

  21. August 29, 2013 10:14 pm

    I don’t mind character driven stories so much when the characters are as interesting as Thea sounds. I haven’t really given much thought to reading this book, but I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  22. August 29, 2013 10:26 pm

    I am listening to this book and so far am really liking it.

  23. August 30, 2013 9:02 am

    I think it’s great that Thea is a complex character 🙂 Having recently read this article ( about how female characters should be more than just strong, I’ve been keeping an eye out for female characters who are also interesting.

  24. August 30, 2013 3:52 pm

    It’s always nice to see a tempered review after so many raves. I mostly prefer character-driven books but it needs to have just the right amount of plot as well to keep interest! Glad you enjoyed this one overall.

  25. August 30, 2013 10:42 pm

    I’m pretty sure someone sent this one to me. Guess it’s not a bad thing that it’s buried, at least for a while.

  26. bookingmama permalink
    September 2, 2013 4:05 pm

    I’m anxious to see what the author writes next. I definitely think she has some major skills.

  27. swright9 permalink
    September 2, 2013 8:53 pm

    I’ve been curious about this one so glad you reviewed it. It still sounds pretty good

  28. September 15, 2013 4:44 pm

    I’ve read mixed reviews of this one, but I think I’m interested. 🙂

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