Rating: 4/5 Stars
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a confused novel. Part coming-of-age story, mystery, and historical novel, this book manages to touch on such disparate topics as horseback riding, the Great Depression, and incest—yes, incest—within the slim volume between its covers. On paper it sounds like a train wreck, but somehow, DiSclafani manages to weave all of these threads together. It doesn’t always translate into a seamless story, but it was an interesting read nonetheless.
Thea Atwell is a young girl growing up in the 1930s sent away to an exclusive private camp for girls. While isolated from her family due to mysterious circumstances, Thea embarks upon a sexual awakening while exploring her true identity. This is a true coming-of-age story which explores the themes of friendship, romance, and family, and how love complicates each of these categories.
DiSclafani has created a truly sensual story with his first novel. My only criticism of the book is that it does not adequately portray the time period in which Thea’s story is set. I was halfway through the book before realizing that the story takes place during the 1930s, since the characters speak and behave in very modern ways. DiSclafani needed to take more time in fleshing out the story and its environment, time period, and setting. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls would be better suited to a more current time period in order to be wholly believable and worthy of 5 stars.