Reviewed by Theresa La (age 17) for Reader Views (10/11)
Summer camp is one of the quintessential American summer traditions. In this novel, Jenifer Brady follows the summer camp of a group of friends, seasoned campers, who volunteer at a Christian camp in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. All of these camp counselors are high school seniors about to enter college, or, are already college students. Intertwined in her story are camp romances, arguments with the director of the camp, fear about the unknown, and happiness at being with friends for the summer again.
The first chapter of this book is very confusing and not placed in the correct order. The information presented in the first chapter would have been better placed, if it was placed in the fourth or fifth chapter, where Kate and her friends’ adventure at camp really begin. The list of camp terminology at the beginning was very helpful and the definitions were very clear and concise. A list of characters would have been helpful as well since there were many characters that were playing large roles, so it was a bit confusing to keep them all in order throughout the book. The cover image of the book did not really portray what the story was about. Gimp bracelets maybe could have captured more the spirit of the story, since it was something that was referred to repeatedly in the story. Another possible idea could be a group of girls and their counselor making gimp bracelets, especially since the title of the book is “Buddy Check.”
The tensions between the characters at the time are so much that the book was no longer compelling to read because there were too many negative emotions running through the story. The romantic relationships that made up the storyline were interesting and added some spice to the novel, but Julie’s character and how fast she went through relationships seemed a bit out of place for a Christian novel and Christian counselors and camp.
The prayers that were included in the book helped to solidify the Christian theme and message. Mark was mentioned a lot in this book, but it was mostly repetitive information; there was nothing new about Mark that was added each time he was mentioned. Each time it was about how he was one of the greatest counselors and that Christian was his best friend and that it sucked to have such an amazing older sibling at camp because then no one would know your name.
This novel would be great for young adult Christians who are either in a confirmation or religious education class, but it might be too long for some students. “Buddy Check” would also be a good book for someone on a retreat to read and reflect on because there are some very interesting questions that could be asked after reading this book. Overall, “Buddy Check” was an interesting read and I am looking forward to reading more of her novels.
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