The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls

by Anton DiSclafani


$15.58 $16.00 Save 3% Current price is $15.58, Original price is $16. You Save 3%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Monday, November 19 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594632709
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 369,993
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About 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.

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

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.”—

"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

Reading Group Guide


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.


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.


  • The author moves between the ordered, class-conscious world of Yonahlossee and the dreamlike plantation of Thea's Florida childhood. How do these two landscapes differ physically? What about socially? Is the geography of the place linked to its larger differences? How is Thea herself altered by these differences when she moves from one to the other?
  • Think about the relationship between Thea and Sam. In what ways are they more than siblings? How does their relationship change as they grow up? Would their relationship and its evolution have been different if they were not twins?
  • Thea grows up in a world where her only peers are boys. How does exposure to the world of girls change her? What does she learn from forming relationships with other girls? How do her specific relationships with Sissy and Leona differ? In what ways is Thea a friend to both girls? In what ways does she betray them?
  • Think about the men in Thea's life. What is she looking for in these relationships? What does she find? How is Thea's first romantic relationship different from her second one? Does she see the differences? How are they important to the growth of her character and to the shape of her story? By the end of the book, how has she been changed by these relationships?
  • Horses are deeply important to Thea. It could even be said that she is a different person when she is riding. Why do you think horses change her? What does she learn about herself through riding?
  • Bravery is a theme throughout the book. What does it mean to be brave? Are there times when bravery can be dangerous? How does her bravery help or hurt Thea?
  • Thea's desires are often at odds with what is expected of her. What does Thea desire? How are her desires channeled? Are there any better alternatives?
  • Why do you think the author chose to set her novel during the Depression? In what ways does the Depression figure into the book or affect the characters? Do you think of it served more as historical background or did its constant presence change the way you interpreted the story?
  • Think about the differences between Thea and Sam's family and Georgie's family. How do these differences affect the twins' relationship with their cousin and their parents' relationship with his parents? Does any of this influence Georgie's behavior toward Thea or hers toward him? How does it affect the adults' responses to what happens later?
  • How much are Thea's parents responsible for what happens to Thea? How much are they responsible for the nature of her relationship with Sam when they were children and then later as teens and adults? What do you think they could or should have done differently?
  • Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See All Customer Reviews

    The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 122 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Could not get into this book i did finish it! Thea the main character was a spoiled biach! U dont screw your cousin or your teacher!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I literally COULD NOT put it down! Great story....beautifully written! Make this book part of your will not be disappointed!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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++++
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed the writing itself. The story is nothing new,
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    She walks in wearing a croptop tht says #Mustache, skinny jeans and white converse, no make up, and her nerd glasses. Shebhad her hair in her natural loose curls. She was walking around lookkng for someone to talk to.