Saturday, August 3, 2013

"You'll come home soon," my father said, over coffee and creme brulee, "after all this mess is settled," I wanted him to tell me that things would be fine. But my father was not a liar. Things would not be fine; they couldn't ever be that way again. ~ From The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton DiSclafani
While in Atlantic City last week, I mentioned that I did a lot of reading by the pool.  The book that I read was The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, by Anton DiSclafani.  This is the second that I've read from my recommended summer book list (there - I've doubled the number that I read last summer).  I loved it.
"A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls’-school rituals, set in the 1930s South"
"It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.
Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer."

I don't want to reveal too much, but will say that Thea's fall from grace within her own family comes more from having lived a life that taught her nothing of how to navigate the world outside of her isolated Florida home than it does from the sexual tensions and questions that come with being a teenager.  And in the end - is she the one who should have been exiled? 

As I read reviews of the book, it seems as though readers loved it or did not care for it at all.  I loved it.

(if video does not come through via e-mail, please go to my blog)


  1. When you first posted your summer reading list, this book was one I had named for my own list, and now with this more in-depth description I want to curl up and read it from cover to cover. Today, overcast and cool, would be the perfect day, too.

    1. I think that you would like it T. It's really well written, and very interesting.

  2. What a terrific book review. I am certainly intrigued. Coming from a very predominant southern family where decisions have reflected some of the stagnant thinking of a culture rooted in isolated experiences, I am always looking for insight and better understanding of geographic mentality.

    1. If you do ever read it Sarah, I'd be very interested in your take on it.