The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
Anton Disclafani (Adult Fiction)
It’s 1930 and America is in the midst of the Great Depression. The southern wealthy send their girls to the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, an elite equestrienne boarding school located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. For 15-year old Thea Atwell however, her stay is more punishment than privilege—a repercussion of “the mess” that would impact the lives of those closest to her. With its established social hierarchy and strict moral culture, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls forces Thea, for the first time in her life, to undertake girlhood friendships and deal with rival animosities.
To say this book was disappointing is an understatement. Just shy of 400 pages, it was a futile investment of my time and emotions. Thea is a girl incapable of making good life choices. Although we could easily attribute this to her age and being raised in near total social isolation, we still can’t overlook the fact that at nearly every moral and ethical juncture, she ignores her better instincts and chooses the path that leads to her own self-fulfillment and pleasure—regardless of the consequences. Very seldom does she bear any responsibility for her actions or show the slightest bit of remorse. Unfortunately, the adults in this book don’t fare any better, although the reasons behind some of their decisions (which seem excessive, cruel, or just simply foolish at the time) are explained toward the end of the book. By this time, it is much too late for the reader to scrounge up any vestige of interest or sympathy for these characters.
I’ve noticed this book appearing on several 2018 summer reading lists. Between an unrepentant main character and an unmercifully long story devoid of any moral lessons, this book is better left in the stable than taken to the beach.
*Book cover image attributed to www.goodreads.com