Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls - Review

Title: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls
Author: Anton Disclafani
Source: LibraryThing

Goodreads Summary:

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.

My thoughts:

I feel like I should be drinking whiskey or something while I write this review for some reason, instead of my coffee.  This book felt a little sordid to me, a little dirty and tarnished, but that was ok. This review contains spoilers, so if you don't want to know what happens, I am letting you know here that I talk about it.

Thea is a good girl from a good family in Florida. She is smart, spoiled, curious, and daring. She has a little pony that is all hers, her twin brother Sam, and the many adventures they take under the sun and over the land together. But as Thea gets older, this isn't enough. Something big and terrible happens, and Thea is sent to Yonahlossee Riding Camp as punishment.

This is where the story begins, with Thea's arrival at camp. The reader does not know why this is happening, but you feel the tension between Thea and her father, that she has committed some offense and now she must pay and wait it out away from home and all that she loves.

But at least she riding. Thea loves to ride, and takes solace in the horses. She also begins to take solace from the headmaster, who is young, handsome, and romantically tragic. He is also married with children. As Thea sets out upon her seduction of the headmaster Holmes, the reader begins to form an idea of the nature of Thea's Big Bad.

Thea and her twin brother live in a dream world on the citrus farm, but it is also a prison of sorts. As Thea grows older and more mature, her sexuality is awakened. Unfortunately for her, the boy she is experimenting with is her cousin George, the only other boy around her age that she has contact with. There is more to this story than I will reveal, but it doesn't end well for Thea, Sam, and George. It is really quite tragic.

The ending trailed off a bit for me. I felt like we were delivered the boom and then blah. It was anticlimactic. I was disappointed.

I read this book with only a few breaks - I just had to know what the heck this girl did! It was a pretty good book, minus the ending, in my opinion. I immediately loaned it to my friend Jennifer, who enjoyed it as well. It's not an easy read, with the underage sex and incest, but books don't need to always be comfortable.


  1. Skipped reading your review because I'm hoping to get to this book one of these days. I'm sure the review was lovely as always though! ;)

    1. Phew, I am glad I put in that spoiler alert! I usually try not to give things away but I just had to this time. Lol. I think you will like this book. :)


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