Why Did I Read This Book:
I picked up the Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls by Anton DiSclafani expecting an interesting read about horses, friendship, and the Great Depression, as well as a romance and maybe a coming of age. Unfortunately, I did not get what I expected. Instead, I felt that Yonahlossee was a bit of a chore to read with characters that I completely failed to identify with.
What’s The Story Here:
Fifteen year old Thea Atwell has messed up big time, so much so that she is in exile from her isolated childhood home in the Florida countryside. Thea has been sent to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls in hopes that she will learn from her mistake and reform. Much of DiSclafani’s book is spent foreshadowing just what Thea’s mistake was but it’s not very hard to guess. At the school, Thea makes a few friends and finds herself riding competitively. While at the school, Thea catches the eye of an older man and an illicit romance occurs. What the Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls is, is the story of Thea Atwell’s sexual awakening, which kind of threw me for a loop as it was unexpected.
What Did I Think Of The Main Character:
Frankly, I did not really like Thea Atwell. She’s inconsiderate of those around her and thinks only about herself. I know that is realistic and that people are not perfect by any means, but I just found it hard to really care about her and to find a redeeming characteristic. She makes some very big mistakes, no doubt, but there is no remorse there. There is no learning. While what happens is not entirely her fault as she was young and impressionable, I do think that I had a hard time feeling sympathetic towards her as she was painted as a character who wants what she wants and that is that, with no thought to the outcome. My dislike of Thea made it very hard for me to actually like the book. I think that if you like Thea’s character, you will probably enjoy The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.
How Is The Setting:
One thing The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls excelled at was setting. I very much enjoyed reading about the riding camp set in North Carolina. I also enjoyed reading about the Florida setting and could almost feel the stifling heat in DiSclafani’s words. The prose perfectly encapsulates the loneliness of the Atwell home in Florida, how it is cut off from society. As for the timeframe, while the book does take place during the Great Depression, it does not really affect Thea directly. Her family is still wealthy. They still have enough money to send her to horseback riding camp and money to pay for a horse. Sure, others around her were experiencing financial loss and ruin and setback, but it was not something that Thea really felt, so for me that was disappointing. I thought that it was a waste of the time period.
How Is The Writing:
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls is a slow paced novel. It is not a particularly loud book, instead it is one that is quiet. For some books, quiet works. Quiet draws you in. For this book, I thought it just dragged on and on. The writing is pretty, yes, but because I did not like Thea, I felt a sense of apathy while reading. I felt that while the prose was technically lovely and evocative and descriptive, that it was dull. I never felt fully drawn in by this book.
What About The Narration:
Probably the root of my dislike for The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls comes from my experience with the audiobook. I just do not do well with narrators whose voices are not appealing to me. The narrator of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls is Adina Verson. She narrates Thea with what sounds like a Midwestern accent to me, as opposed to a Southern accent. Whenever she did a character with a Southern accent, I would get excited, but eventually it would go back to Midwestern, which is fine and dandy but felt inappropriate for a Southern setting book. I felt that the narration was quite monotone and boring. I constantly zoned out. I had to go back and look at the book to figure out what happened. I also want to state that this is a not safe for work audiobook. There are a lot of graphic sex scenes which made me squeamish. I wish I had known beforehand that they would be there, as I really do not mind them BUT I can’t exactly be listening to that while doing paperwork in the office.
Sum It Up With A GIF:
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher.
Other reviews of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls:
Great Imaginations – “not memorable in the least”
That’s What She Read – “a fascinating look at another side of the Great Depression”
Confessions Of A Book Addict – “an excellent read to take with you on summer vacation.“