The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

3.9 119
by Anton DiSclafani
     
 

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“This summer’s first romantic page turner.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Named a most anticipated book for Summer 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly and USA Today, NPR, and People summer reads pick

A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and

Overview

“This summer’s first romantic page turner.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Named a most anticipated book for Summer 2013 by The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly and USA Today, NPR, and People summer reads pick

A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls’-school rituals, set in the 1930s South

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.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
In [DiSclafani's] story there are echoes of A Separate Peace…as well as of Curtis Sittenfeld's more recent boarding school novel, Prep. What makes Yonahlossee emotionally engaging in its own right—this summer's first romantic page turner—is Ms. DiSclafani's sure-footed sense of narrative and place, and her decision to portray her heroine, Thea Atwell, in all her complexity: fierce, passionate, strong-willed, but also selfish, judgmental and self-destructive…Ms. DiSclafani methodically builds suspense, making the reader wonder how Thea's two romances will unfurl, and whether they will dovetail or collide…the reader's attention rarely wavers, thanks to Ms. DiSclafani's knowledge of how to keep her foot on her story's gas pedal, and her sympathy for her spirited, unbridled heroine.
The Washington Post - Ron Charles
…a 20th-century gothic tale that reads like a lusty cousin of Bronte's classic [Jane Eyre]…From one angle…The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls seems like the most old-fashioned, counter-revolutionary kind a novel. Despite some explicitly lubricated scenes, it's downright Victorian in its insistence that when a young woman strays outside the bounds of sexual propriety, she ruins herself and those around her. But DiSclafani is a crafty mistress of those pious conventions. Her heroine must confront the old harlot-or-saint choice, but she won't ultimately accept either role. Here is a young woman coming to understand the varieties of sexual experience…without renouncing her desire.
Publishers Weekly
The setup for this debut novel is delectable: it’s 1930, the country is tumbling into depression, and 15-year-old Thea has done something bad enough to get her sent from Florida to an elite year-round “camp” in North Carolina where, at least at first, the effects of the economy are kept at bay while affluent Southern girls become “ladies.” DiScalfani, who grew up around horses, is at her best when recreating the intuition and strength of girls in the saddle. Otherwise Thea’s narration feels flattened by history and the characters she encounters never achieve dimensionality. The build toward the revelation of Thea’s crime is drawn out, sapping the reveal of drama, but the account of Thea’s emerging sexuality provides meaningful reflections on the potency of teenage desire. Here too, however, DiScalfani seems distanced from her characters, relying on declarations such as “I was not weak,” “I was angry,” and “I was glum” when exploring the tension of conflicting feelings. Though there are many twists and turns, the prose numbs the pleasure of reading about even the most forbidden of Thea’s trysts. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME Entertainment. (June)
Matchbook Magazine
...gorgeous & popular online women's magazine praises: Few debuts are as mature and page turning as Anton DiSclafani's wonderful The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls…it is clear that DiSclafani has announced herself as a brave new voice in American letters and we can't wait to see more from her.
NPR Online
Anton DiSclafani's debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is a painstakingly constructed ode to a young girl's sexual awakening. This is perhaps one of the classier books a young teen would hide under her covers to read with a flashlight.
Daily Beast Hot Reads
One imagines that this book will be gifted to more than one young equestrian on the basis of the title alone: perhaps a slight error for the giver, although the receiver will love it enough to tuck it under her thin camp mattress to keep it safe.
MSN Page Turner Blog
...a strong read for older teens and young women.
Kirkus Reviews
DiSclafani's debut chronicles a teenager's life-changing year at an elite boarding school in the North Carolina mountains. Thea arrives at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, expanded years earlier to a year-round school, in the summer of 1930. She has been sent away from her home in central Florida for an initially mysterious offense, and she bitterly regrets her exile from the isolated rural paradise she roamed freely with her twin brother, Sam. Though she frequently tells us she has rarely spent time with anyone other than relatives, Thea is a self-assured newcomer who quickly assumes a favored spot in the girls' pecking order, partly because she's taken up by popular Sissy, partly because she's an excellent horsewoman, but mostly because this stunned survivor of family ostracism seems to her peers a cool, detached observer indifferent to their approval. In elegant prose that evokes the cadences of a vanished epoch, DiSclafani unfolds at a leisurely pace the twin narratives of Thea's odyssey at school and the charged relationship with her cousin Georgie that led to a confrontation with Sam and disgrace. Sympathetic new friends, like the school's headmaster, Mr. Holmes, help her see that her parents unfairly chose to punish her and protect Sam, but as Thea and Holmes move into an affair, she acknowledges the fierce, unabashed sexuality that frightened her family and means she will never be the sort of proper young lady Yonahlossee was designed to cultivate. Times are changing, even in this privileged enclave; several girls have to leave when their ruined fathers can no longer pay the bills, and Thea's family is forced to sell the home she yearns for. DiSclafani writes with equal intelligence and precision about female desire and a rider's kinship with her horse; her perfectly judged denouement allows Thea to simultaneously sacrifice herself for a friend and defiantly affirm that she will only be "a right girl" on her own terms. An unusually accomplished and nuanced coming-of-age drama.
From the Publisher
“What makes Yonahlossee emotionally engaging in its own right—this summer’s first romantic page turner—is Ms. DiSclafani’s sure-footed sense of narrative and place, and her decision to portray her heroine, Thea Atwell, in all her complexity: fierce, passionate, strong-willed, but also selfish, judgmental and self-destructive. By setting the novel in 1930, as America teeters on a financial cliff, and the days of debutante balls and fancy-dress parties seem numbered, Ms. DiSclafani has tried to situate the rarefied world her characters inhabit in a real-life context, even as she gives the reader some well-observed glimpses of the lifestyles of the rich and not so famous. . . . By cutting back and forth between the events that took Thea to Yonahlossee and her experiences in school, Ms. DiSclafani methodically builds suspense, making the reader wonder how Thea’s two romances will unfurl, and whether they will dovetail or collide. . . .  The reader’s attention rarely wavers, thanks to Ms. DiSclafani’s knowledge of how to keep her foot on her story’s gas pedal, and her sympathy for her spirited, unbridled heroine.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is no one-trick phony. Even as Thea keeps wetting her lips to tell us the unspeakable truth, we’re lured into more complex and provocative aspects of her story. . . . The novel’s most daring aspect [is] its winding exploration of adolescent sexuality. . . . DiSclafani is a crafty mistress of . . . pious conventions. Her heroine must confront the old harlot-or-saint choice, but she won’t ultimately accept either role. Here is a young woman coming to understand the varieties of sexual experience—from abuse to delight—without renouncing her desire. . . . Sensing . . . harsh judgment from home and school and world, Thea concedes, 'I’m not a right girl.' But she’s fearless, and she’s riding to win."—The Washington Post

“DiSclafani is an insanely talented writer—her precise period details and lovely descriptions of riding and adolescence have a spellbinding effect.”—Entertainment Weekly

"DiSclafani's writing is smart and sexy, and her characters are flawed and worth knowing as they navigate through life and don't always make the wisest decisions."—NPR

"Sparkling . . . DiSclafani's transporting prose recalls that uneasy time at the brink of adulthood, and reminds us that even the most protective parents can't keep the world at bay."—O, the Oprah Magazine

“The tone of the novel’s opening pages is hushed and portentous, as DiSclafani creates an atmosphere of spooky anticipation and foreboding. So vivid are DiSclafani’s descriptions that one can almost feel the humidity in the air, taste the famed Yonahlossee iced tea, see the gorgeous vistas of Blue Ridge Mountains around the camp.”—Boston Globe

“DiSclafani’s mastery of pace and mystery and her skilled evocation of the atmosphere in sultry Florida and the crisp Carolina mountains make this an uncommon first novel.”—Dallas Morning News

“There's much to enjoy here: clear, concise writing, lushly drawn settings, compelling choices of time and place.”—Chicago Tribune

"A captivating story of shame, blame and family secrets.”—USA Today

“Compelling debut.”—People

“Anton DiSclafani's debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is a painstakingly constructed ode to a young girl's sexual awakening. This is perhaps one of the classier books a young teen would hide under her covers to read with a flashlight.”—NPR.org

"Boys may be boys, but girls—well, their coming-of-age can be more complicated. Anton DiSclafani’s vivid, beautifully written novel explores the consequences for Thea, a headstrong Depression-era teen who is banished to a posh southern school after a family tragedy."—Parade

"A smart, satisfying first novel."—Real Simple

"Lush . . . the tensions, jealousies and triumphs are deftly blended to vividly portray the coming of age of a gathering of girls at a particular time in a particular place."—New York Daily News

“In elegant prose that evokes the cadences of a vanished epoch, DiSclafani unfolds at a leisurely pace… An unusually accomplished and nuanced coming-of-age drama.”—Kirkus (starred review)

"Set in the 1930s, full of alluring descriptions, and featuring a headstrong lead character, this is a literary novel that is also full of scandal, sex, and secrets. . . . [Readers] will be held in thrall by the world so vividly and sensually rendered here in a novel that is as sophisticated in its writing as it is in its themes."—Booklist (starred review)

“Engrossing, empathetic, and atmospheric, this debut will resonate with readers as the author eloquently portrays the inevitable missteps in coming of age. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“I fell completely under the spell of Anton DiSclafani’s amazing first novel and was gripped by its lush and dreamy evocations of Southern decorum, family secrets, and boarding school rituals. DiSclafani is wildly talented, and this is a sexy, suspenseful, gorgeously written book.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is so sexy, smart, and vividly drawn that I was surprised to remember that this novel is Anton DiSclafani's first. With such a big-hearted and atmospheric book, Ms. DiSclafani's talents should be celebrated far and wide.”— Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

“Thea Atwell is an unforgettable heroine, and DiSclafani’s pitch-perfect details of time and place effortlessly drew me into this fantastic novel’s authentic and alluring world.”—Laura Moriarty, author of The Chaperone

“In her haunting debut, Anton DiSclafani reminded me how I came to love reading as a child, the way a book can so envelop you in its unique and vibrant world that even as you race toward the end, you find yourself dreading the moment it’s finished. It’s a fierce and tender, beautiful novel.”—Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals

Library Journal
Young, beautiful, and privileged, Thea Atwell lives on a sprawling ranch in Florida. She loves her twin brother, her parents, and, most of all, her horses. But while she intuitively understands the equestrian life, social isolation and unusual family dynamics have left her confused. She yields to her youthful desires and ends up in trouble with a boy, with disastrous consequences that compel her parents to send her to a horse camp for girls in the Blue Ridge Mountains. There, Thea learns how to navigate a complex yet nurturing social environment, one that allows her to acquire the life lessons she so desperately needs. Even as the Great Depression compounds the shattering of Thea's once predictable world, she ultimately finds the measure of her own strength. VERDICT Engrossing, empathetic, and atmospheric, this debut will resonate with readers as the author eloquently portrays the inevitable missteps in coming of age. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/7/12.]—Susanne Wells, Indianapolis, IN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594486401
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/04/2013
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Rona Brinlee
DiSclafani's writing is smart and sexy, and her characters are flawed and worth knowing as they navigate through life and don't always make the wisest decisions. - Rona Brinlee (BookMark Bookstore)
From the Publisher
“What makes Yonahlossee emotionally engaging in its own right—this summer’s first romantic page turner—is Ms. DiSclafani’s sure-footed sense of narrative and place, and her decision to portray her heroine, Thea Atwell, in all her complexity: fierce, passionate, strong-willed, but also selfish, judgmental and self-destructive. By setting the novel in 1930, as America teeters on a financial cliff, and the days of debutante balls and fancy-dress parties seem numbered, Ms. DiSclafani has tried to situate the rarefied world her characters inhabit in a real-life context, even as she gives the reader some well-observed glimpses of the lifestyles of the rich and not so famous. . . . By cutting back and forth between the events that took Thea to Yonahlossee and her experiences in school, Ms. DiSclafani methodically builds suspense, making the reader wonder how Thea’s two romances will unfurl, and whether they will dovetail or collide. . . .  The reader’s attention rarely wavers, thanks to Ms. DiSclafani’s knowledge of how to keep her foot on her story’s gas pedal, and her sympathy for her spirited, unbridled heroine.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“DiSclafani is an insanely talented writer—her precise period details and lovely descriptions of riding and adolescence have a spellbinding effect.”—Entertainment Weekly

"DiSclafani's writing is smart and sexy, and her characters are flawed and worth knowing as they navigate through life and don't always make the wisest decisions."—NPR

“Compelling debut.”—People

“Anton DiSclafani's debut novel, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, is a painstakingly constructed ode to a young girl's sexual awakening. This is perhaps one of the classier books a young teen would hide under her covers to read with a flashlight.”—NPR.org

"Lush . . . the tensions, jealousies and triumphs are deftly blended to vividly portray the coming of age of a gathering of girls at a particular time in a particular place."—New York Daily News

“In elegant prose that evokes the cadences of a vanished epoch, DiSclafani unfolds at a leisurely pace… An unusually accomplished and nuanced coming-of-age drama.”—Kirkus (starred review)

"Set in the 1930s, full of alluring descriptions, and featuring a headstrong lead character, this is a literary novel that is also full of scandal, sex, and secrets. . . . [Readers] will be held in thrall by the world so vividly and sensually rendered here in a novel that is as sophisticated in its writing as it is in its themes."—Booklist (starred review)

“Engrossing, empathetic, and atmospheric, this debut will resonate with readers as the author eloquently portrays the inevitable missteps in coming of age. Highly recommended.” – Library Journal (starred review)

“I fell completely under the spell of Anton DiSclafani’s amazing first novel and was gripped by its lush and dreamy evocations of Southern decorum, family secrets, and boarding school rituals. DiSclafani is wildly talented, and this is a sexy, suspenseful, gorgeously written book.”—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is so sexy, smart, and vividly drawn that I was surprised to remember that this novel is Anton DiSclafani's first. With such a big-hearted and atmospheric book, Ms. DiSclafani's talents should be celebrated far and wide.”— Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton

“Thea Atwell is an unforgettable heroine, and DiSclafani’s pitch-perfect details of time and place effortlessly drew me into this fantastic novel’s authentic and alluring world.”—Laura Moriarty, author of The Chaperone

“In her haunting debut, Anton DiSclafani reminded me how I came to love reading as a child, the way a book can so envelop you in its unique and vibrant world that even as you race toward the end, you find yourself dreading the moment it’s finished. It’s a fierce and tender, beautiful novel.”—Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals

Meet the Author

Anton DiSclafani grew up in northern Florida, where she rode horses, competing nationally. She graduated from Emory University, and received her MFA from Washington University. She currently lives in Saint Louis, where she teaches creative writing at Washington University.

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The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls 3.9 out of 5 based on 2 ratings. 119 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls! A Florida native myself, I spent most of my childhood summers exploring North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains at an all-girl summer camp.  DiSclafani's The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a coming of age novel that- thank god- isn't overly saccharine or predictable. The author skillfully stitches together a plot of mystery and romance that helps shape protagonist Thea Atwell's development into a young woman. DiSclafani pays great detail into developing her characters into people with depth and intrigue, making this novel an absolute page-turner. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a MUST read...especially for the summer. Sex, money, and mystery...What's not to love in a great beach book?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book! For me, it was a can't put it down kind of book. I was so engrossed in the story, I forgot I had plans! DiSclafani creates a real sense of place with the The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, and the Depression-era setting is a perfect backdrop for Thea's coming of age and exposure to the outside, adult world. Thea herself is a compelling and fully-realized character, a realistic portrait of a young woman. All in all, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls was a great read, and I would highly reccommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a very different book. It is compelling and well-written. I enjoyed it very much. On the one hand it is a mystery, keeping you reading til the end to find out exactly what went on. On the other hand it is about a young girl away from home for the first time and what she learns about other people, and about herself. The only criticism I have is that the sex scenes were too numerous. By the end of the book I was skimming over them thinking, "not again." It didn't add anything to the story after awhile, just held the reader back from the closure at the end of the book. I would recommend this book for book club discussions if the readers are aware of the sexual nature of the story and are not afraid to go there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anton DiSclafani is a brilliant author. I loved The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. I thought the heroine was extremely well developed as a character - showing her as a fully rounded character with many flaws. I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of historical fiction, this book hooked me from the first few pages. DiSclafani's talent for precise and vivid description is truly wonderful! I was taken back to a world that has long been forgotten - the days before the Great Depression was in full swing. However, the sex scenes in the novel became a little much. It got to the point where I wondered how it continued to contribute to the plot at all. And I was bit disturbed by the fact that Thea Atwell was only 16 years old and pursuing a suitor well beyond her age... Overall, I recommend this book for its excellent historical narrative and DiSclafani's talent for emersing her reader in a time and place that is not our own anymore.
JuliaRosie More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book; well-written and a compelling story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful novel with rich, warm and complex characters. I just could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, for several reasons, but I just didn't. I didn't see growth of the main character; instead I thought she went from bad to worse. "The rest of the story" was told in less than 2 pages at the very end, with little detail. The story was supposed to be set in the early 1930's but there were some colloquialisms that were definitely not from that period. Since it was written in first person, that mattered. Too much detail in the sex scenes, which wasn't really necessary, and the moods and personalities of the characters were all over the place. I read all the way to the end, but had figured out how things would end up very early on, so no real surprises there. Sorry!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I literally COULD NOT put it down! Great story....beautifully written! Make this book part of your summer....you will not be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It was "just" different. Another great book is "The Partisan" by William Jarvis. This novel is based on facts and has strong women characters included. It is only 99 cents on the Nook right now. It has great reviews. Both book are A++++
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Yes. The next two results would probably be the main camp...maybe you place is better...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SMHarris More than 1 year ago
Though set in 1930, little about Anton Disclafini's THE YONAHLOSSEE RIDING CAMP FOR GIRLS felt like a period piece except for an occasional mention of the Great Depression. I didn't find the main character, Thea Atwell, all that likeable so it was difficult to relate or identify with her. (I did found it interesting how weak all her male characters were portrayed.) I think the greatest disappointment was the conclusion. I wanted it to end with a bang but it merely fizzled out...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Christmas0 More than 1 year ago
This book was just average. When reading you could assume what was coming in the following pages. Still a compelling story but not one for suspense or deep character development.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this book. As a horse lover and ex-floridian, I was ready to enjoy a fictional tale of a young girl coming of age. But while there are promises of character development, the writing is so disjointed I simply cannot keep reading. When the storyline jumps from past to present and memory to future without transitions, you know the book desperately needed an editor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago