My Summer Vacation by Hannah R. Goodman
(iUniverse / 0-595-39430-2 / May 2006 / 144 pages / $11.95)
Hannah R. Goodman is a new writer of informative novels for young adults. Her two books parallel those of Lyda Phillips. In fact, the two authors even know each other. Like Ms. Phillips, Hannah writes short novels that surround the lives of teenage characters who have serious underlying issues. My Summer Vacation is her second novel. My Sister's Wedding (not reviewed here) received accolades galore, and this second book is a continuation of the life of sixteen-year-old Maddie Hickman. The married sister's history of alcohol problems weighs on younger Maddie's mind as she prepares for a quiet summer at camp with her friends.
The pack of friends at the coed, creative-nerd camp have plans that do not include quiet. Two of the boys in Maddie's clique put up their dukes over one of the girls, and both get thrown out of camp for fighting. This is a clique of teenage Counselors in Training, not a bunch of ten-year-old boys, so a brawl over a girl gets everybody's attention. Catfights of a similar, but less phsyical, nature will break out among the girls, too, so Maddie has to seek solitude elsewhere. She finds it in a final-year camper (not a CIT) with Tourette's Syndrome and a love for the classic rock of his parents' generation. The teenage soap bubbles keep on developing as the teens learn to deal with the sudden passing of loved ones, addictive personalities, and the kissing of other people's boyfriends. It may not be Meatballs, but My Summer Vacation is a quick, lighthearted read, even with the trials, tribulations, and tragedies.
Hannah R. Goodman has approached the subject of enablers with humor and delicacy. Yes, some of the lead characters in the story are the psychological enablers of family members who just cannot seem to get their acts together. Although it never bellows from the pulpit, the book is intended to provide insight to teens who may be facing similar issues in real life. My Summer Vacation offers entertainment and enlightenment suitable for teens and their parents. It's too bad that the second novels of Hannah Goodman and Lyda Phillips cannot be packaged and sold together at a much lower price. The two summer camp stories for girls would double the insight and double the fun for the appropriate teen readers who most need them, but at $23 for about 250 pages, iU's price structure is still the company's Achilles heel. I have heard that Ms. Goodman is working on the acquisition of a more cost-effective publisher, but in the meantime, this book fills a need that I'm sure exists within many troubled families, for whom the price should not be a deterrent. Hannah Goodman is an ex-high school English teacher who has experience with troubled teens that climbs out from between the lines of the story.