Long lost Reviews (LLR) is a monthly featured hosted by Ally @ Ally’s Appraisals where bloggers are encouraged to tackle their review backlog with book reviews that have been sitting there for a long time. Reviews can range from in-depth analyses to one sentence statements with no pressure applied. To learn more and see participating blogs visit Ally’s blog here.
Published: 2nd May 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher
They’re more than their problems
Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay.
Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.
Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.
Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.
And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.
As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.
It’s been a long time since I read this book, but I stumbled across this half written review with notes and thought it would be perfect for this month’s Long Lost Review. So here goes:
Back in 2017 I received an ARC of Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu and devoured over the course of two days while floating down the Murray River. The book fascinated me, but while I really enjoyed the novel and what it represented, I can’t help but feel like I wanted more from it at the time. It’s possible that I went in with too high expectations after reading the blurb … but It left me wanting more… in a good way, and a bad way …
Four Weeks, Five People is a compelling and utterly mesmerising young adult novel about a group of five teens who are unwillingly paired up together at Camp Ugunduzi (Swahili for discovery) for the summer. All five kids – Clarissa, Andrew, Ben, Mason and Stella have a different mental illnesses and issues that they need to learn to overcome and live with, but they are also teenagers who are looking for more out of life than group therapy sessions with a bunch of strangers dissecting every aspect of their lives. What ensures then, is essentially a mix of the summer camp narrative vibe of rule breaking, first loves, and self discovery and acceptance, mixed in with a heady does of mental instability and confusion. It really was the perfect novel … until it wasn’t.
This novel is ground breaking as far as I can remember it, for Jennifer Yu was one of the first young adult authors I was aware of who was brave enough to tackle various types of mental illnesses in not only the one book, but with the young adult category, She took to the masses messages of acceptance and tolerance, and held a mirror up to the readers face asking them both what they would do in that situation and who they are at the core.
I want to praise Jennifer Yu for the way she realistically represented the five very different people, their complications and personalities within the camp setting. With five alternate point of views, the novel could have easily ascended into chaos early on, but Yu did a marvellous job crafting and pacing the narrative so that it not only flowed, but you wanted more.
The characters all felt real, authentic people that you and I could have easily passed at school or been at camp with. Their problems were larger than life, and shaped who they were at the core. So much so that Ben’s chapters are even written in script format. Something that is not easy to do, but fits within the context of the novel just as easy as the delivery and voice of any of the other characters.
As a reader, it didn’t take long for me to become emotional invested in the story, so much so that I was left in tears for parts of the narrative. That said, I feel like the last third of this novel was incredibly rushed and character development was lost in the process here because of it. I wanted more, no, I NEEDED more from the characters especially at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I think one of the crowning achievements of this novel is the way Yu has gone to great lengths to stress that not everyone can be ‘fixed’ in four weeks (or at all, and there is nothing wrong with that), and it’s unrealistic to expect them to come home all rosy, new and ready to take on the world. I loved that. Truly, loved it. BUT when the writing became rushed, characters took a backseat and things got lost, that left me wanting more from Yu as a writer.
I’m not going to spoil this book, as I do believe it has a worthy place in the YA category and it needs to be read, but I do want to give a warning that this book will trigger a lot of different things for readers. It deals with self harm physically, emotionally and mentally and it’s not a story to be entered into lightly.
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