“At summer camp, children find the joy in learning, discovery and curiosity – a joy that we hope they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.” (Eden Lake, Roper)
What fond memories are conjured up when I hear the words “summer camp?” For me and I’m sure for many of you the experience of attending a summer camp in our youth was pleasurable and exciting. Staying in a cabin for the first time, being away from parents, bonding with kids your own age, and finding a counselor who you revered were appealing aspects summer camp had to offer. The activities offered were endless! Horseback riding, canoeing, swimming, fishing, hiking, arts & crafts, and sitting around the campfire at the end of an exhaustive day were some of the main stays of camp life. The campfire in the evening lent a special time for this camper! I remember the ‘60’s songs that were sung and various camp counselors strumming away on their guitars. As I began reading Eden Lake by debut author, Jane Roper, these long ago remembrances came immediately to my mind. Eden Lake is an appealing story that takes place at a summer camp in Talbotts Corner, Maine. As you read it you will find yourself reminiscing about your summer camp days of old. But it’s just the backdrop for a poignant family story, as you’ll soon discover.
Clay Perry and Carol Weiss established Eden Lake, as newlyweds in 1968. This children’s summer camp was innovative and somewhat of a visionary type of children’s camp for its time. Fast-forward thirty years later where we find Clay now married to Gail. The camp has grown to be an expensive one for those who are prosperous and can easily afford to send their children. Unexpectedly, the Weiss children are faced with a heartbreaking and disastrous calamity. They now are faced with and need to resolve the task at hand. Eden Lake is their responsibility but will they be ready for such an undertaking? What does this mean for each of them and their very own existence?
Abe, Jude, Eric, and step-sister Aura – are the adult siblings left to manage the camp due to the untimely death of Clay the founder of Camp Eden Lake. All four know for certain that even though they are in the thralls of sadness they must rally together to make the summer’s camp session a success. As their stories unfold, they deal with surprising intimate discoveries, come to terms with earlier tribulations, and start afresh by building new bonds with each other and their mother.
Roper successfully shares the dynamics of this family and their connections with one another. Abe, being the eldest, is in a quandary as he determines if he should pursue the life like his father did as the camp director of Eden Lake. Then there is Jude, with all of the true characteristics of the middle child, who disowned her father after her parent’s marriage dissolved. I felt sorry for her as she grapples with her own romance predicaments. Eric is the youngest, living his entire life at Eden Lake and has worked there as well. To Eric, Eden Lake is his world. Subsequently there is the stepsister, Aura, who was somewhat shunned by Abe, Jude, and Eric. Ironically though now it’s Aura who is pivotal in saving Eden Lake.
What’s to become of the family and this pleasurable picturesque camp? You’ll want to discover this enjoyable and exquisite family story that was well written and very detailed. I liked how Roper wove in the events of the early 1990’s. There is even a Camp Eden Website!
Eden Lake gives the reader a glimpse at how a family reacts to one another in a variety of ways. It’s like the old saying goes, “friends may come and go, but the love of family lasts forever.”
A complimentary copy of Eden Lake was provided by the publisher.