Written by: Una LaMarche
reviewed by:Amanda Peake
I had high hopes for this book. I received it as an ARC and have been reading it SLOWLY for a while now. This book is an attempt to take four “best” friends back to the camp where they all met and became the inseparable J.E.M.S every summer. The book floats back and forth in time and changes POV from 1st to 3rd person. All of this makes this cute book frustrating to read. The storyline itself isn't a bad idea. However as a reader knowing how the book going to turn out by the end of chapter two doesn't leave a lot of desire to read it. I would also go on to say this story idea is so good it's been done before and really well too, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ms. LaMarche changes the pants into this artistic journal that they all write rules to being best friends called “The Pact”. Despite all of that she did make me nostalgic for summer camp days gone by, So much so that I went and looked up a couple of my summer friends. Speaking of friends the girls in this book each have secrets and struggles so lets get to them.
Jo- The J in J.E.M.S comes from a broken home and spends all year with her mom but, the summers are for Camp. Her Dad (Mack) is the owner and Leader of the camp. Jo herself is basically his second in command and gets called Mini-Mack which is something she hates. She comes across as having no sense of humor and never breaking the rules. However as the story progresses she starts changing, She starts liking a guy who's been in love with her for years, breaking a few rules, and deciding she wants more than just camp for the rest of her life. She changed in the best ways and by the end seemed to really have it together.
Emma- The E in J.E.M.S is who our story starts with. She's an Ivy-League College Bound girl who has had to fight tooth and nail to get the grades and recommendations to get into her choice schools. As a young camper she had a crush on Adam another camper who was known as a flirt. Her last year of camp he tried to kiss her and she turned her head. The reason was because she didn't want her friendship with him to change. (seems really unrealistic since she was twelve and liked him for four years.) Now as a senior in High School she comes back to camp to reconnect with her friends and re-do that last night with Adam. Things have changed and secrets kept which leads this innocent crush into a drama filled reunion weekend.
Maddie- The M in J.E.M.S. She is the sweetest liar you'll ever meet. She comes from a broken family too. Her mom and step dad are constantly fighting and at nine she wanted to find her biological father to escape her home. After writing a letter to Mack, Maddie finds herself in an escape called CAMP. She reinvents her life and before long it's to late to tell the truth. Now back at the reunion she wants to set the record straight but is it to late?
Skylar- You guessed it the S in J.E.M.S. This chick is just trying to hard in all aspects of her life. She's starved for attention and love. She's heartbroken and reacting horribly. She betraying her best friends and gets swept away as the girl who “gets around” at camp. This isn't who she really is inside she has an artistic soul and is really hurting and confused. She changes through the book and by the end I don't hate her. I will say I wouldn't be able to do what Emma has...
I'm not going to go into the guys because while Adam stirs up the drama and almost kills a friendship he was just boring to me. His best friend Nate is far more interesting and talked about far less.
This book over all was a good attempt at showing how friendships you make when your young will either thrive while you change and they do too or they will fail. It's a good reminder that sometimes your best friends are the ones that are right in front of you. That being said this book could have been a cute tween novel and hit it's mark well. As a late teen book with the running theme of sex I think it's a miss. I am going to give this book two stars.