Camp Clique

Running Pr. (The Popularity Pact: Bk. 1). Apr. 2020. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762467457.
Gr 3-7–Maisy and Bea are ex-best friends who have spent the last year apart. Maisy became friends with the M & Ms, a group of popular girls whose names all start with M, and Bea became a loner. Maisy’s mother is away for an unnamed reason, so her physician father signs her up for adventure camp to keep her busy in the summer. Now Maisy and Bea are thrust together in the same cabin at Camp Amelia, where Bea now has a tight group of friends from years of summer camp and Maisy is the odd girl out. Bea and her friends are very competitive and plan to win the coveted Amelia Cup, but Maisy might ruin those chances with her nonathleticism and anxiety around heights and swimming. Maisy offers Bea a pact—if Bea will help her fit in at camp then Maisy will get Bea in with the M & Ms when they return home. Meanwhile, Maisy spends time with Dr. Beth, the camp psychologist, trying to work out whether she can forgive her mother. The secret of her mother’s problems is kept from the reader for most of the book and its reveal is handled sensitively; it turns out her mother has an opiate addiction. The cover may indicate a simplistic story about friendship, but this book has complex family dynamics and two protagonists with incredible depths. Narration alternates between the two girls, while letters and DMs home to family and friends help move the story along.
VERDICT This is a powerful middle grade novel about the difficulty of both forgiveness and trust, as well as the nature of true friendship. Recommended for collections seeking summer camp fiction with depth.

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