Camp Outlook by Brenda Baker

camp outlook

Shannon is thrilled when her mom becomes pregnant. After years of hoping and praying, Shannon will be a big sister. They will be a normal, happy family. Shannon likes being normal. But when her baby brother is born, things do not go according to plan. God does not seem to be following the rules. And Shannon does something that is so out of character, not even she can explain it. Sent away to Camp Outlook, Shannon has several mysterious experiences, crushes on the student minister, and starts to re-consider how important being “normal” really is. (Goodreads)

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Netgalley) in return for an honest review.

I am not going to lie – I don’t actually know where to begin reviewing this book. I sort of liked this book and I sort didn’t. Having said that, the book carried a pretty powerful message about children with disabilities, which I think is very prominent in our society today. I think I am going to go for one of the very rare times that I do things in a list – it might be easier this way!!

Likes:

The story itself was pretty captivating as well as the writing. Despite the fact that it was going back and forth between present day and a little while in the past (but not too far back) it was pretty easy to keep up with. I feel that the flashbacks to what had happened to lead us up to why she was at Camp Outlook was pretty powerful to the story itself and it kept the reader guessing throughout.

The message itself about people (children in particular) with disabilities. I feel the way in which this was portrayed is very true to real life. Teenagers do mostly (not all of them) treat other people differently when the have a visible disability and, more often than not, they are bullied because of it. Whilst this was a horrible thing to read, it is so relatable and so true to our society today!

The growth of our MC! At the beginning of the book, she really bugged me because she was just so childish! All she thought about was herself and her normal. She didn’t seem to care about anyone else around her – I just wanted to slap her, basically. However, her experiences at Camp Outlook helped her to grow as a person and helped her to see what she was doing wrong! So, at least by the end of the book, I found her tolerable!

Dislikes:

The religious aspect. I almost felt like I was being preached to. Our MC couldn’t decide whether she believed in God or not and it was pretty irritating. I think this book probably would have been better off without it!

The weird paranormal/not so paranormal experience that our MC had throughout the book. So, it was basically written off as an experience that only she had – but I didn’t get it. In fact, it actually confused me a little bit! Why couldn’t our MC just learn from her experiences at Camp Outlook, why did the author have to bring this element into it? Again, back to the God thing, it felt a little preachy!

Having had a scare during my pregnancy that my child might have Downs Syndrome, I really hated reading the views that kids have regarding this issue. Maybe this should be classed as one of my problems with society, because all the author did was tell the truth. I do feel, however, that the author didn’t represent the other side of the coin very well. Not all teens are like this. Whilst it was represented, it was represented as well as those who were the bullies.

I do believe that this book also sent a pretty good message about the idea of what normal is. Just because it isn’t normal to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t someone else’s normal. In the end I decided to give this book 3/5 stars!

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?

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