Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review and Author/Character Guest Post: Milestones by Samira Armin Hodges

I hit a milestone today: This is my 500th blog post! Ironic that this milestone comes as I feature a book called MILESTONES, isn’t it?

Can you keep a secret? When 14 year old Faye Martin gets hit by lightening in front of Benji, the boy she’s had a crush on since the 4th grade, her parents inexplicably decide to send her off to summer camp. And not just any summer camp, but one that no one’s ever heard of, in the middle of nowhere where she’ll have no contact with the outside world for months. Her one small consolation is that Benji has been sent there too. Will they be able to unravel the mystery of the unusual camp before it’s too late?

Guest post by Faye Martin, main character of MILESTONESOkay. Introductions are in order. My name is Faye Grace Martin – though only my mother calls me that - and I’m fourteen years old. I’ve been asked to tell you all about my experience at camp Milestone. The thing is: I hate camp Milestone. Better yet, I loathe it. Despise it with every ounce of my soul. So I’d rather not write about it at all. Why should I give this poor excuse for a camp the satisfaction of writing about it? Or glorifying it? No thanks. Instead, I’ll write about another camp. The camp I wish I had gone to instead of camp Milestone. So here it goes. My informal essay about my ideal camp.

My ideal camp is not set in the middle of nowhere. It’s not isolated or secluded or whatever. It’s outside a big city where there are resources. My ideal camp is also “friendly”, and “comfy” and “lovely” and aesthetically pleasing. When you walk onto the camp grounds, you see beauty and nature and trees and you notice amazing activities taking place around you and you feel excitement. You want to be a part of it. You DON’T walk onto the grounds, look around and wonder where the hell you’ve landed. You don’t wonder if your cabin is made of rotting wood or some sort of straw. Because the cabins at my ideal camp are strong and sturdy and made of real wood .

Plus, my ideal camp is awesome. It has a hundreds of campers and dozens of camp counsellors. It doesn’t have a dozen campers and one counsellor. Cause that, my friends, would be weird. Weird and freaky. Oh! You know what else? You can so find my ideal camp on the internet. Yeah! It totally exists online. You can Google it, look it up and find out pertinent information about it. You can see pictures of previous campers and they all look like they’re having a blast. Like they’ve made friends. Awesome friends. The kind of friends you don’t want meeting your school friends. The type you want to keep to yourself and not share with anybody. You know that type, right? The kind you bond with and never let go?

On another note, my ideal camp is not the least bit scary. It doesn’t make you fear for your life. You don’t do crazy tasks and you certainly, certainly have some kind of access to your family and friends. I’m talking internet, cell phone…or heck, even a regular old fashioned phone. Furthermore, my ideal camp is not at all mysterious. What you see is what you get. Because people go to camp to have fun. I mean, isn’t that the entire point? To break free from school, stress and drama? And to have a summer romance or something? An unforgettable summer and yadda yadda? As opposed to freaking out, being more stressed than you ever knew you could be and wondering if you’re going to live? All the while trying to figure why in heaven’s name your parents (YOUR PARENTS!) would choose to send you to a place like this when you know for a fact that they love you? And you are constantly wondering, why, why, why they would this do this to you deliberately if they do in fact love you??? And you can’t help it but you find yourself obsessed!! Constantly second guessing! Constantly searching for evidence, for hints, for ANYTHING AT ALL that would explain why you’ve been sent to this hell hole…. without a phone………. without a clue……….without a paddle……….


THAT would be MY ideal camp in case you’re wondering.

Basically, it’s just a normal camp. A normal safe camp.

Not much to ask, is it?

My reviewOk, so here’s the deal. MILESTONES is incredibly clever and the concept/mystery is well executed and fun to try and figure out. Once you have that “a ha!” moment, everything clicks into place and what seemed pretty random finally starts to make sense. What I’m afraid of though, is that a lot of readers aren’t going to have that much patience. After the first chapter, a choppy, repetitive introduction to Faye where she complains (A LOT) about having to go to camp, I felt like Faye and I had something in common – she didn’t want to go to Camp Milestone and I didn’t want to read about her going to Camp Milestone. Fortunately, we both stuck it out, and in the end, I can say we’re both glad we did (despite what she says about it in her guest post today).

MILESTONES comes out in hardcover on August 1st. This post is a part of the MILESTONES book tour. For a list of the other stops and for more information about this title, go to

Let's discuss!
I attended many summer camps when I was younger, and the absolute worst has to be "Whistle Camp", a strict church camp in Michigan. I was looking forward to finally spending some quality time with my best friend Sommer who had been vacationing with her family for a whole month, but when we got there, they divided us into teams that shared activities, meals and cabins, splitting Sommer and me up, ensuring that we'd never see each other.

But that wasn't even the worst part - at anytime of day or night, the camp "elders" could blow their whistle and summon us to take our places at the designated spot for our team. Teams were rewarded for being complete and quick and punished for missing members and being slow. Not fun.

At one point, an elder suspiciously asked my friend Margie what she had in her water bottle. Margie being Margie (read: supremely sarcastic), she replied "It's my vodka. I need it to sleep at night." She tucked it in next to her pillow and left the room. When she returned, all her water (yes, it WAS just water) had been poured out.

How about you? Any camp horror stories to rival those of mine and Faye's?


Heidi Willis said...

Firstly, Congrats on your 500th post! Wow! I can't event think that far ahead!

Secondly: This cover is awesome! I would pick it up in a second just for that.

And I love camp stories... maybe because I only went once, to a very tame and uneventful camp, and I like to live vicariously.

I tend to stick it out and not put books down, but knowing it all comes together helps a lot getting through a scattered beginning. Maybe I'll give this one a try.

I love your reviews! I love being exposed to books I might not otherwise hear about!

Elizabeth said...

That short description totally sold me on the book. I've been in a mystery mood lately.

I went to a different camp every summer for about 10 years, because I didn't really like any of them. Then I finally, mercifully wound up at a nerd camp, and I was so, so happy.

It wasn't the classes (some were better than others; I was, ironically, a terrible student in school, because I didn't really have it together to hand anything in). It was the other nerds. I had found my people!

Melanie said...

Congratulations on 500 posts! That's amazing.

This book looks like a really interesting read. I love the character guest post. I'll definitely be picking this one up when it comes out.

Kristen said...

Wohoooo 500th post! That's crazy! I've seen this book and then hearing your review, the guest character talking, and actually reading the summer (not just looking at the pretty cover like I seem to do lately), I think I must read it!

My camp story is .. I was I think 7, and it was my first overnight camp. I sleepwalked and peed in someone's bed thinking it was the toilet. Thankfully, I don't sleepwalk anymore. The person didn't notice.. and well I'm pretty sure I didn't fess up, but I did not go back to that camp again.

Heather Zundel said...

500? That's incredible. Congratulations Lenore!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Heidi - It is a very striking cover isn't it? And thanks :)

Elizabeth - I went to a couple of nerd camps too. Well they were writing/journalism camps so they were considered nerd camps.

Melanie - I love how the character guest post turned out too. I love "chatting" with characters. So fun!

Kristen - WOW! That's a crazy camp story!

heather - thanks :)

bermudaonion said...

Congratulations on 500 posts! I never went to anything but day camp and it was always tame.

Marie said...

500 posts! WOO!

This book sounds very interesting & mysterious!

I sort of envy people who went to camp... I never did :(

Staci said...

500th post!! Party time!! This book sounds very interesting and I like that you let us know ahead of time what to expect in those first couple of chapters...I felt like that when I read Criss Cross..a book I never finished because it felt disjointed to me.

I've never been to a summer camp so i don't have any horror stories to share!

Beth F said...

I loved camp. I don't really remember any bad camps or bad times. I guess I've blocked them out!

Laina said...

That's sort of funny that you wrote about Milestone on a Milestone. :)

The lightning thing makes me think of the 1-800-WHERE-R-U series by Meg Cabot, but this one doesn't seem much like it at all. Sounds really good, though!

#extra entry

WordVore Prod said...

Congrats on your 500th post! And what an irony...was that absolutely coincidental?!:P
The cover is really cool. You had me at "hit by lightning in front of her crush". I scrolled up, read it again, scrolled up, read it again. And okay, the camp's just freaky. No access to the outer world?
I am a little disappointed by the Faye complaining part. I've had ebough of Bella's whining X_X
And aww, poor you and your camp experience. It's just mean getting punished for being slow!
But then again, at least you HAVE camp experience. We don;t even HAVE camps here:(
#extra entry

L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L said...

Congrats on your 500th post! This seems like my kinda book. I love mysteries and I like the concept of this book. It seems very original, but I'm not very patient. I hope that I can get through the beginning like you said.

#extra entry

Kristen said...

I forgot about the extra entry thingie for your contest. So see up above for my comment and here:

#extra entry


Paradox said...

That summary hooked me! I want to solve the mystery now! The idea of a camp story (which I love) mixed with mystery (which I also love) sounds awesome! I'm patient, so I think I'll end up liking this book when I find a copy.

#extra entry

Breanna said...

Woah. Congrats on the 500 posts. That's pretty amazing!

After reading the description of that you provided I thought I'd for sure want to read this! I always love a good mystery.

That sucks that near the beginning she rambles on about not wanting to go to camp. I can understand why you didn't want to read that, lol. But I'm sure I could make it through it. I'd be excited to get to the mystery part.

I'm glad you liked the book! If I can find a copy I'll definitely check it out. Great review!

#extra entry


mare-bear said...

I'm totally psyched for this book -- I love a good mystery.

Congrats on 500 posts!