Darling at the Campsite

Lake Union: Amazon Jun. 2021. 364p. ISBN 9781542020145. pap. $14.95. F
Abramowitz (Thank You, Goodnight) takes Rowan Darling from his Philadelphia record store back to his hometown of Maybee, IL, which he couldn’t get away from fast enough. His estranged older brother Holden has died in South America. Rowan plans to return to Maybee for the funeral, comfort his mother, and avoid his first love and his former best friend, who are now married to each other. But he ends up re-creating his high school love triangle, in a new form. He loves, but only to a certain point. He denies his vulnerability, skirts around love, and settles for sex in its place. But Maybee and its residents won’t let Rowan lock himself away. Over the course of the book, he slowly softens and connects with old friends, new people, and most of all, himself and his longings. The novel’s sardonic tone sits alongside serious themes of betrayal and loss; Rowan’s pain is an is an undercurrent that seeps into every moment.
VERDICT This book is like life: sometimes funny, touching, sad, uplifting, and messy. More character-driven than plot-heavy, it’s for readers who appreciate stories that look back at high school and leaving home, through adult eyes.
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