Thursday, June 27, 2013

Book Review: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Pages: 400
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 4, 2013
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, " It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, 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 page-turner—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."
Thea has been sent away from her beautiful and isolated Florida home to a boarding school in the mountains of North Carolina during the summer of 1930.  At The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, Thea will learn how to interact with other girls her age, ride horses (which is her passion) and become more educated and refined.  Her parents have sent her there due to something unspeakable that has happened at home.  Instead of dealing with it as a family, they send her away from everything she has known and from her twin brother, Sam. At first, Thea feels like a fish out of water as she doesn't have much experience interacting with other people (other than her family), but popular girl, Sissy, takes her under her wing.  It also helps that she is an excellent horsewoman and gives even the best rider at the camp a run for her money.  Her parents sent her to Yonahlossee with the hopes that she would become a proper young woman, but the events that occur there would shock her family.  Anton DiSclafani's debut, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is an addicting tale about forbidden romances, friendship, family secrets, and Thea's coming of age.

Thea isn't someone I could really relate to, but I was still interested in her story. She is kind of troubled, but I feel like that is becaue her parents have sheltered her from the world as she only really ever hangs out with her brother or her cousin, Georgie.  Thea is really unconventional, especially for living in the 1930s. She is very sexual, impulsive and a bit devious, which obviously makes for a captivating protagonist.  Thea embarks on two forbidden romances and although a few "romantic" moments made me cringe, I still needed to know more about Thea and why she acts the way she does in The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.

The whole mystery of why Thea was sent to The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is what kept me going. What could she have done that was so horrible that she needed to be sent away? I was dying to know and DiSclafani does a fabululos job of letting the secret unfold slowly. She lets her readers put it together piece by piece. The story jumps from Thea's past in Florida to present day at the camp, which is a device that was done very well and added to the mystery surrounding Thea's secret in The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls.

The setting of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls was fantastic. I love books set in the south, so I was enjoyed the Carolina setting tremendously; plus, the setting of a "riding camp" was fascinating. Readers can really tell that DiSclafani has a lot of experience with horses as she really brought that aspect of the book to life. 

Although the forbidden romances were a little too forbidden for my taste, I still thought it was done well, thanks to DiSclafani's outstanding writing style.  The setting, the mystery, the writing, and the romance make The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls an excellent read to take with you on summer vacation.  


  1. I still need to read this. I've had it on my Kindle for a while now. It does sound interesting and I hope to get to it soon. I just keep getting distracted. Great review!

    1. I hope you get to read it soon! Thanks for visiting, Natalie!

  2. Wow, your review definitely has me intrigued about this book. I ordered it for the library so maybe I'll get the chance to read it eventually (there are a lot of people on the waiting list). I had no idea that there were horse riding boarding schools.

    1. I am not surprised that there's a waiting list....there's a lot of publicity for this book. I hope you get to read it, Christina!

  3. You definitely make this one sound tempting! I need to check it out!

  4. I've been waiting for your review of this one! :) Mystery and forbidden romance - I might just have to check it out! Great review, Christina!

    1. I think you would like it, Leanna! Thanks for visiting.


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