Five boys went in, but only four came out.
Ten years ago, Will Dillard’s preacher father put him in a “homosexual rehabilitation” camp which ended tragically. Now, Will is distanced from his family, but firm in his identity. Life seems to be falling into place as a film student when suddenly a new movie comes out which seems eerily familiar.
A new horror release becomes an instant cult classic, but when the horror movie twists the narrative he knows, Will goes in search of the past of the camp, his fellow campers, and his family.
This book, White’s debut, weaves together a tight but chronologically varied narrative. White ekes out the details in the present and past so skillfully that I felt him answering questions as they came to mind. Like another literary debut this year, Kea Wilson’s We Eat Our Own, the elements of violence and suspense are only heightened by the literary language.
Briefly paging through early reviews on Goodreads of the novel, I found myself cringing at the criticism of Will’s character as “unlikable.” Will’s character isn’t always likable, but that’s not the point of a narrator. He is the narrator because he moves the story– and Will does. He makes decisions, whether the reader wants to peek through their fingers to watch the outcomes or not. Often painful, but always believable, Will is a narrator I will remember.
A review on this book would be amiss not to mention the cast of majority LGBT characters. Zeus and Will’s love story was unlike one I’ve ever read, and watching the changes in the campers from past to present was one of my favorite connections in the book.
Recommended! Pick up a copy of this and/or recommend it for your local library.
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White, Blue Rider Press
Release Date: June 6, 2017