Having just completed the minefield of seventh grade, Todd is faced with his father’s demand that he attend summer sports camp. When he finds a brochure for a nature camp, Todd enrolls there in order to avoid what he describes as, “a dismal choice of torture camps.” Still, Todd is worried about how other campers will perceive him, with his feminine ways, and practices his “boy walk” and masculine faÃ§ade.
Philips’ intent here is great; she develops a character who is trying to be his own kind of boy: a gentle, feminine boy, a boy who fantasizes about mermaids and dreams about looking pretty, in a world where that is frowned upon. However, while Todd’s character is well-defined, the story falls short of appealing to any audience. While Todd is 13 years old, his mermaid fantasies and the desire to swipe a Barbie doll make him seem much younger. In contrast, a portion near the end of the book relates an incident where the camp bully gets a girl drunk, which gives Todd an opportunity to take a stance, but this scene doesn’t quite work and seems disconnected from the
story. At one point, Todd is called a “fag,” and at the end of the story, he sees men in dresses during the high heel race in D.C. Finally, there are editing errors in the book that make some passages awkward to read. Not recommended.
Reviewed by Sharon Flesher-Duffy
Library Media Specialist
Nashua High South (NH)