I went to summer camp for a few summers as a kid, but now, as an adult, I really wish I had gotten more into it than I did. I was extremely shy and introverted as a child, so I understand why I didn’t really embrace it as much as other kids did, but when I think back on it now, I really did enjoy it and wish I could go as an adult (wouldn’t that be super fun?)! When I saw that Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor (in stores July 26) was a YA story about an introvert being sent off to Shakespeare summer camp, I knew I had to dive in because I could relate so hard.
Growing up homeschooled in Berkeley, California, Beatrice Quinn is a statistical genius who has dreamed her whole life of discovering new mathematical challenges at a school like Oxford University. She always thought the hardest part would be getting in, not convincing her parents to let her go. But while math has always made sense to Beatrice, making friends is a problem she hasn’t been able to solve, so her parents are worried about sending her halfway across the world. The compromise: the Connecticut Shakespearean Summer Academy and a detailed list of teenage milestones to check off. She has six weeks to show her parents she can pull off the role of a “normal” teenager and won’t spend the rest of her life hiding in a library.
Unfortunately, hearts and hormones don’t follow any rules, and there is no equation for teenage interactions. When she’s adopted by a group of eclectic theatre kids, and immediately makes an enemy of the popular—and, annoyingly gorgeous—British son of the camp founders, she realizes that relationships are trickier than calculus. With her future on the line, this girl genius stumbles through illicit parties, double dog dares, and more than your fair share of Shakespeare. But before the final curtain falls, will Beatrice realize that there’s more to life than she can find in the pages of a book?
Overall, I enjoyed the plot of this story—it moved at a nice pace, and the camp sounded like a super-fun place that an English nerd like me would have loved to spend my summers as a teen. There were some really great friendships introduced in this story that I liked to follow along with, and I actually liked the love interest in the end, despite really not feeling any type of away about him in the beginning. I like stories where the characters have to check things off a list or follow an adventure already mapped out for them.
That being said, I didn’t love how the main character, Bea, was portrayed. She is obviously on the autism spectrum, which her camp friends seemed to realize and embrace quite quickly, but the fact that her parents were forcing her to be something she wasn’t didn’t sit well with me. If you’re naturally very introverted, no one should be forced to perform on a stage in front of people—how would that possibly mean that she’s ready to go off to school on her own? Although everything worked out in the end, I’m not sure it would have happened that way had Bea been a real person because that was a lot of change for a person in a very short time. I wish the author would have been clearer about Bea instead of making her (and many of the people at camp, if I’m being honest) stereotypical.
I really liked the love story between Bea and Nik. It was nice to see how it blossomed and how they grew to learn about each other throughout the summer, and if you know anything about me, you know I love a good enemies-to-lovers story (though this one is very, very chaste—as it should be!). I would almost like to see where Bea ends up next, with a few tweaks, of course. It made me miss summer camp, even though I never went to one that was anything like this. I wish I did!
“I was overwhelmed before because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, but now I have a very detailed checklist. A ridiculous checklist where I am hugging strangers and forcing small talk on them, but a chicklist all the same.” —Serena Kaylor, Long Story Short
Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the advanced copy, and to Annie Spratt for the featured photo.