­Counting Scars

Orca. (Orca Soundings). Aug. 2022. 128p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459833555.
Gr 9 Up–Sixteen-year-old Adele arrives for a two-week stretch at Camp Happy, a detention facility for teens, intending to follow the rules. With her mom in rehab, she doesn’t want her distant father to be disappointed in her and decline to supervise her probation after release. But she quickly finds herself caught between the attentions of two boys who live in the cabins at the other side of the camp. Dreamy, mysterious Fergus shows up at odd moments to help her, and maybe stalk her, while more talkative Andy warns her in stark terms that Fergus is bad news. After a secret bonfire is discovered by camp staff and Fergus arrives to whisk her away and avoid punishment, they grow closer, filling in some details about their backgrounds and sharing a toe-curling kiss. Later, Adele is attacked and finds herself a prisoner, along with Fergus, with Andy threatening to burn them both alive. Some coarse language and characters’ gritty lives won’t appeal to every reader. But the story is propulsive, with cliffhangers and burning resentments among secondary characters. The book is written at a second grade reading level.
VERDICT Hand to reluctant high school readers looking for a good crime story.

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