When Ethan arrives at summer camp for the first time, he has just three modest goals. First, to survive. Second, not to be hated. Third, not to be the worst at anything. But these goals turn out to be relatively easy to achieve. Instead, his real challenge comes in the form of a new cabin mate. Zachary arrives at camp late, surrounded by a cloud of rumors, and Ethan finds himself intrigued and somehow envious of the new arrival. Zach doesn’t seem to care what anybody thinks of him. He doesn’t even seem upset when he is forced to miss the Big Swim, the legendary camp event where a select few try to swim across the lake and back.
Then Zach attracts the attention of Amber Levine -- the girl with an easy smile and a freckle on one knee -- at the same time that Amber attracts the attention of Ethan. And life gets even more complicated when Zach decides to try the Big Swim on his own, and he manages to convince Amber and Ethan to help him. Original and smartly observed, this story will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been to summer camp.
Cary Fagan has won the Vicky Metcalf Award, the Jewish Book Award and the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, and his books have been nominated for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize, the Giller Prize, the Silver Birch Award, the Norma Fleck Award and the Rocky Mountain Book Award. He is the author of several popular short novels and picture books, including Danny, Who Fell in a Hole and A Cage Went in Search of a Bird (illustrated by Banafsheh Erfanian). The Old World, his recent collection of adult short stories, was published by Anansi in March 2017.
The setting is rich and the characters are interesting and fresh.
We knew he was a bad kid even before he showed up. I didn't know where all the information came from, or even whether it was true. I only knew that there was a lot of it, and none of it was good...