I’ve been hearing great things about Anton Disclafani‘s The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls for a couple of months now. It has been touted as one of the books to watch this summer in places like the The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly. So obviously I came to it expecting a lot. It was a good read, and I am sure it will be loved by a great many, but it just wasn’t for me. It be a case of the wrong book at the wrong time.
Let me lay out for you from the outset the reasons why it did not particularly rock my world:
- Some girls growing up love horses. I was not one of them. There are lots of horse riding sections in Yonahlossee, most of which I skimmed, but I think I was supposed to feel passion and beauty.
- The story is told in such a way as to give increasingly more information about a past indiscretion. Normally I like this style, but Golden Boy, the book I read previous to this one, is told in the same manner and I was bored of that style. I just wanted the information!!
- I did not find the protagonist, Thea, to be sympathetic and I think for this particular story that is crucial.
All these reasons for not liking the novel ultimately reveal more about me than Disclafani or The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.
The story revolves around the teenage Thea, who is suddenly sent away to Yonahlossee after committing some indiscretion involving her twin brother and their cousin. What did she do that was so horrible? Her story is revealed in a series of flashbacks that are interspersed with the travails of her new life at the Riding Camp. One thing that becomes clear is that she did not necessarily learn from her past mistakes. All of this is set against the back drop of the increasing financial strain that the Great Depression has brought to other well off girls at this riding camp-cum-finishing school.
Who would like this book? There are a lot of people out there who are going to love this book. In fact I have already recommended it as a ‘must read’ to one friend. She likes historical fiction and rode horses when she was growing up. This book is definitely up her alley. In spite of my personal feelings about the book, I do thing Yonahlossee is a great book for summer. It is a page turner. You feel compelled to go on to find out why Thea has been sent away and how her actions could have had such a devastating effect on her family.
I wonder if you would have liked this more if you hadn’t just read Golden Boy? That happens to me now and then. A book suffers because I’ve read something done in a similar style (and done better).
This book sure does have a lot of buzz right now and I’ll most likely get to it at some point. I’m curious 🙂
I liked but didn’t love Yonahlossee – I found Thea intriguing, but not particularly sympathetic. And she definitely did not learn from her mistakes. But I loved the descriptions – so lush and beautiful.
This is a really good, balanced review. I wasn’t into horses growing up but I do like the sound of the book gradually revealing what Thea did. I will keep a look out for it.