Camp Spirit

Top Shelf. Apr. 2020. 208p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781603094658.
Gr 9 Up–A dire fate awaits Elodie after she graduates from high school: working at Camp Bear Lake, at the behest of her mother, to earn money to pay for college. From the moment she arrives, she knows she’s in for “the summer from hell.” On top of gross public restrooms, showers with no doors, and a bizarre camp chief, she’s responsible for “the redheads,” the six most unruly campers. Things look up when she befriends fellow counselor Catherine. But when Elodie has nightmares and sees blue lights in the forest, she fears that a dark forest spirit is after them all. Full-color saturated artwork captures camp life, from the blossoming romance between Elodie and Catherine to eerie forest legends. Set in 1994, the story is infused with Nineties nostalgia, set to a soundtrack of Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana. The characters are funny and believable, with wonderful expressions and amusing dialogue. Some mild profanity and a bit of suggested nudity during shower and swimming scenes place this one firmly in the older YA camp. However, one page features a jarring visual stereotype of Native American culture—a camper with face paint, feathers in her hair, and a tomahawk.
VERDICT There’s a lot readers will enjoy about this coming-of-age camp comedy: romance, a dose of paranormal horror, and laugh-out-loud shenanigans. It’s unfortunate that it includes a hurtful depiction of Native culture.

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