Summary: No Place Like Here
In No Place Like Here, Ashley Zanotti’s summer plans do a 180 when her dad is sentenced to jail time for tax evasion. Her mother is severely depressed and has to check herself into rehab. Ashley, on the other hand, can’t spend time at home with her best friend, Tatum. Instead she’s shipped off to work at an outdoorsy retreat center with a cousin she barely knows.
At the center, she meets a college boy named Mark, another camp worker named Baxter, and many other interesting characters. Her time away is also punctuated by visits to her dad in jail and calls from her mother in rehab.
I really enjoyed the summer camp setting. Ashley works at a retreat center where organizations and families come for “team-building” exercises. This book vividly chronicles the summer retreat experience — everything from bon-fire nights to trust falls and hikes. As a lover of the outdoors, reading about swimming and zip lining is always fun. I also liked reading about Ashley’s relationship with her cousin and watching her growth throughout the book. Another part of the story I liked was the unraveling of the not-quite mystery surrounding the center’s current manager.
However, the most important plot in this book for me was that of Ashley and her dad. Ashley’s father is verbally/emotionally abusive and often puts her down. His praises are scarce and hard to win, but he’s eager to find fault with everything she does. Author Christine June really shows readers through Ashley’s thoughts and the way she constantly swallows her opinions, how much damage such abuse can cause. It was also refreshing to see depression handled positively and to reflect accurately that it’s not a condition that ever really “goes away.”
Of course, there’s a bit of love in this one, but it’s not the book’s center. I also loved Tatum and Ashley’s friendship. Reading about great female friendships in books is always a win.
I listened to this book on audio and I did not enjoy the narration — it felt more like a reading than audiobook narration. That definitely impacted my experience of the book. I also had mixed feelings about the resolution with Ashley’s dad.
Overall: No Place Like Here
No Place Like Here is refreshing young adult novel chock-full of summer vibes. Yet, this one is not all a fluff pick. This novel features parental mental illness, parental incarceration, and mature female friendships. No Place Like Here is a perfect summer read for lovers of camp stories, books featuring tough family dynamics, and stories with strong female friendships.
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Have you read this book or anything by Christina June? What did you think? Also, what are your favorite camp-related YA books? I’d love to know!