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 15, 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 pause resister - 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.
©2013 Anton DiSclafani (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Former English major who loves to read.
The writing is lush and gorgeous and yet the author excels at keeping the story moving. Best kind of literary fiction.
Thea, the protagonist, who is a bold and brave girl with flaws and foibles. Smart and caring while being an adolescent who doesn't understand that there are serious consequences to her seemingly private actions.
Thea ...see above
Just read this book. It will pull you in quickly and keep you swimming in this world for days to come. I look forward to the author's next book. Bravo first novel!!
My review is only of the narrator. Her voice lacks personality and I just could not finish the story. I will buy the hard copy and read it, the story sounded interesting. In the future I will be sure to avoid stories narrated by Adina Verson.
There are many well-written reviews about the plot of this story, but what I enjoyed the most was the deep and unflinchingly honestly exploration of Thea's internal world... her private consciousness. And as a teenager, what is more consuming than ones experiences (so many of them firsts), perceptions (ever-shifting) and the struggle to make conclusions and figure out where you stand. The thoughts you'd never dare write down or discuss. The author was able to fully delve into Thea's past and current experiences and pull at the threads. The main thread, about a boy and a man, are more central to the plot. But what I found most interesting was how she forged relationships with other girls for the first time in her life... the "mystery of girls' affections, which were hard won and easily lost." I was transported back to the old ways my previously teenage brain worked - the turmoil of on-again-off-again friendships. These internal experience and the details of her moments were what I found most honest and memorable. I'm also a 4th generation Floridian and enjoyed the loving recount of Florida's strangeness.
I would with some reservation. There is a lot of coming of age sexuality that I am sometimes uncomfortable with. Also there is a hint to bigger story but the leading up to the climax seems really drawn out (unnecessarily so in my opinion). Howvere the language is lyrical and I am enjoying the narrator who's voice seems perfect for her character.
I have read none of his books before.
I had read a negative review of the narrator and was almost persuaded not to by this book. The Washington Post rated it very highly so I went ahead. At first I had the speed a little too fast and I did find the voice jarring BUT I slowed it down ( to normal) and then found the narration to be very in keeping with the mood and subject of the book. It was enjoyable to listen to.
I have not finished this book ( I am about 2/3s through it). I am enjoying it but do think it is unnecessarily long for the story it presents. If I had bought an actual book I probably would have skimmed alot of it. I do recommend the book however because it is beautifully written. Worth a credit.
Im not a big fan of books depicting dysfunctional families. So, despite the really impressive writing, I was anxious for this book to end. To me, it seemed like a parable about a self-focused mother who created a home environment propped on stilts of superiority and idealism. And because of her efforts to keep even her own family from peeking behind the curtain, a fissure grew to become a cavity that sucked the facade in. The story allowed me more understanding and subsequently even greater compassion for "loose girls."
I fell in love with Thea and her weaknesses, mistakes and her love of her horse and her family. The sexual content didn't bother me as I read other reviewers struggle with the content.
Hmmmnnn. Maybe. This had enough going on so that I listened to it all but there were times that I was working too hard to learn some element or aspect of the character in order to care about the character(s). And sadly, when I did learn something, it really wasn't all that sympathetic to the character. I thought Ms. Verson a good reader, especially for the narrator's personality.
This is my first book by DiSclafani.
I enjoyed any explication involving the horses but the horses were not really a main point in the plot, except that the riding camp/horses fit into the main character's personal likes/talents.
Probably not. I'd had to give away some pertinent plot points to explain why but I can just say that the pivots that turn the plot are fairly non-relative to most peoples' lives and therefore sort of distant and unreachable.
I give kudos to anyone who finishes writing a novel. And points to DiSclafani for writing from the viewpoint of a teenage girl. I might give another book a try. But it will have to have some elements of day-to-day life which don't reach so far into the periphery of the weird and untypical.
I had such high hopes for this book, but I couldn't finish it- halfway through I was very annoyed with the narrator, and really uncomfortable with the more-than-kissing cousins.
I found the flashing back and forth from present to past distracting and confusing. This may be easier to follow in book form, but I found it difficult in audiobook form. I also really got frustrated with how the secret scandalous thing Thea had done was dragged out- I'm all for building suspense but this just dragged and felt like it was unnecessarily taunting the reader, which was just annoying.
I found the voice too girlish, and the accents were all the same, and all grated on me. The voice was also very sad, it just sounded like a mopey teenage girl, and while I realize that Thea is a mopey teenage girl, the voice just got to me!
I cannot say, since I couldn't even make it all the way through the first book
I found the relationship with Thea and Georgie extremely disquieting, and ultimately that is what caused me to stop listening.
Disclafani does a great job of getting us inside the head of this young girl. Thea Atwell is precocious in her way, very capable, and complex. The story moves along in segments, with the big reveals held always just out of reach. There's a constant suspense.
Thea is a worthy character to sustain a novel. She is complex and nuanced, but drawn vividly for us.
The end of the book, where several narrative strands are summarized, is especially lovely and poignant.
The reader, Adina Verson, is wonderful. She's rather dry, but this allows the words on the page to do the work. I'll seek out other books she's recorded.
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