Originally published October 2015
There’s nothing like first love. Especially when it’s at summer camp. And it comes with a side of nut allergy and attempted murder.
Author Dina Silver’s latest, “Whisper If You Need Me,” is her first YA novel—although if pressed, I would also put “One Pink Line” in that category as well. It’s the tale of one young Julia Pearl, whose life is upended at 11 years old when her father kicks her mother out, having had enough of her addictive behavior.
It’s a blow not just physically, but emotionally, too—once a confident tween that didn’t see much wrong with her mother’s eccentricities, the now 16-year-old Julia is a shell of her former self. Easily panicked and purposefully withdrawn, it takes enrollment in a summer-long camp to force her to face her fears.
It’s at Hollow Creek that Julia starts to find herself again, thanks to friends like Emma and a certain boy named Jack. Throw in a few spoiled brats and sex-obsessed camp counselors, and you’ve got yourself a classic teen tale of summer romance and friendship.
At just over 250 pages, the book is great for a weekend read—and is enough of a page turner you could likely finish it in a single sitting. The characters are engaging and flawed and very human, save a couple that are just downright bitchy. Every good soap opera has a bitch though—books shouldn’t have to be so noble as to avoid that character construct.
I found this to be an interesting bookend to last weekend’s read, “How To Be A Grownup“—take away the age difference, one lead character being 16 and one being 41—and the story is much the same. Girls, looking for love (or love finding them), trying to find or create a new a identity, dealing with an uber-bitch or two, and relying on friends along the way.
I’m also a big believer in a book being a book being a book, regardless of genre. Don’t let a YA label scare you off reading it for fear you’ll find it to be something to which you can’t relate. Far from it—it’ll have you reminiscing over your own past summer romances and is a great conversation starter for any Mother/Daughter book club. For example, daughters can ask their moms about the first time they fell in love, and moms can ask, “Omigod did you have sex at camp last summer? DID YOU?” OK, maybe that’s the second question.