When we have books that have characters that are only kids or young adults, we are usually reading a children’s book or a young adult book, but not Kim Fu’s The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore. In her most recent novel, we dive straight into the lives of five girls whose lives are about to be upended and forever changed during a kayaking trip that has gone very wrong during summer camp in the Pacific Northwest.
In the interchanging chapters, we first get acquainted to the Camp Forevermore, and what it means for the many girls to come here during summer vacation.
The reader learns about the camp environment and what danger is on the horizon for them, and we then jump into the individual perspectives of each of the girls at the time of the kayaking trip (in 1994). The narration continues to switch between their youthful voices and their adult voices, decades later.
From Nita’s fascination and obsession with her dog to Andee’s self-preservation that rises from a chaotic childhood that has her always on the road, we step briefly into these girls’ lives that are real in that every one of them deals with things that either remind us of someone close to us or feel so very real that we truly believe those things have happened to these girls.
Fu’s writing is fresh and effective; it cuts deep, and its effects remain long after the final page is being turned.
Forever scarred by being left stranded on an island while they are each between the ages of 10 to 12, their lives are all told through a somewhat strained lens. By telling the complete story of that life-changing kayaking trip throughout the individual stories of the girls, the intensity of that trip is at first dimmed down, but still, the horror that happens on that island does not escape our eyes.
Once it is fully narrated, we are briefly reminded of the classic, Lord of the Flies, and we remain in the state of horror as we realize what the girls are capable of doing under these circumstances.
The story of the girls’ journey of survival on the island is perhaps the most memorable one as it reveals the ugliness of humans, in this case, girls.
The series of events on the island leaves us speechless and have us shudder as we grasp what every human is capable of doing under stress and in need of survival.
Through Fu’s refreshing and stark figure of speech, we are invited onto a kayaking trip that goes terribly wrong, and we witness three girls’ lives that are full of stark realities that are almost too hard to read. Filled with desires and actions that are at times horrible but real, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore shows us humanity at its most vulnerable and strong, and how a single unfortunate event could lead to life-altering changes.
Kim Fu will be at Hugo House on November 9 at 7:30 PM with authors Lauren Groff and R.O. Kwon and will read new work.