Cover image for The lost girls of camp forevermore : [a novel] / Kim Fu.
The lost girls of camp forevermore : [a novel] / Kim Fu.
First Canadian edition.
Publication Information:
Toronto : HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd, 2018.

Physical Description:
249 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Subtitle from cover.
A group of young girls descends on Camp Forevermore. Bursting with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. Before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home. We see the survivors through the successes and failures, loves and heartbreaks of their teen and adult years, and we come to understand how a tragedy can alter the lives it touches in innumerable ways.


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FU Paperback Teen Collection

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From the award-winning author of For Today I Am a Boy, a gripping and deeply felt novel about a group of young girls at a remote camp--and the night that will shape their lives for decades to come

A group of young girls descends on Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest, where their days are filled with swimming lessons, friendship bracelets and camp songs by the fire. Bursting with excitement and nervous energy, they set off on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island. But before the night is over, they find themselves stranded, with no adults to help them survive or guide them home.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore follows these five girls--Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina and Siobhan--through and beyond this fateful trip. We see the survivors through the successes and failures, loves and heartbreaks of their teen and adult years, and we come to understand how a tragedy can alter the lives it touches in innumerable ways. In diamond-sharp prose, Kim Fu gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves--and the pasts we can't escape.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In the latest from Fu (For Today I Am a Boy), which reads like a collection of linked short stories, a summer-camp accident changes the lives of five girls, all between the ages of nine and 11. Nita, Andee, Isabel, Siobhan, and Dina arrive at Camp Forevermore in the Pacific Northwest for different reasons-entranced by brochures featuring girls with "bold smiles of uneven teeth and no-nonsense braids," or eager to escape the strictures of their monotonous upbringings. At first occupied by swimming tests and self-conscious friendships, the campers soon embark on an overnight kayaking trip to a nearby island to become "capable, knowledgeable outdoorswomen." When group leader Jan falls ill, the girls are forced to traverse the island's dense woods seeking rescue, and must contend with the elements and one other. In sections that alternate between the events of the trip and the sweep of each character's adult life, effects of the trauma linger; from Dina's eating disorder and failed modeling career to Nita's sublimated, near-rabid need for her son to Siobhan's mistrust of children. Fu precisely renders the banal humiliations of childhood, the chilling steps humans take to survive, and the way time warps memory. Agent: Jackie Kaiser, Westwood Creative Artists. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

BEFORE EMBARKING ON an overnight kayaking trip, five girls at a camp in the Pacific Northwest sing, "And I shall love my sisters / for-ev-er-more." The camp promises a vision of wholesome sisterhood that seems unaware of the complexities of young girls' lives, a vision Kim Fu skillfully complicates in her new novel, "The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore." The girls are led by a veteran counselor whose decision to change their camping destination foreshadows the tragedy to come. Though Fu relates the girls' dramatic efforts to rescue themselves, her focus is on the aftermath of the trip. Siobhan Dougherty, who yearns to be "more like the heroines of the books she liked," wonders, of her fellow campers: "Who would they become? What would they get to do and see? Who would they love?" The novel alternates between short chapters about the camping trip, which takes place in 1994, and longer, character-driven chapters about the girls' lives post-Forevermore. The result is a multilayered exploration of how class and culture inform the girls' actions and alliances during the trip, and how the trip then affects their relationships and choices in adulthood. Fu, the author of the novel "For Today I Am a Boy," is a propulsive storyteller, using clear and cutting prose to move seamlessly through time. Before Forevermore, Isabel Wen had a "happy child's narcissism, a solid belief her parents would return in the evening." For Andee Allen, a scholarship recipient with "ferocity in her eyes," Forevermore barely registers on her list of childhood traumas. Nita Prithi, who bullies Siobhan, is called a genius by her teachers and excels at school, but is socially awkward. Dina Chang, who dreams of being a movie star, remembers Forevermore as "purely sadistic torture, a punishment for nothing she could recall." There are challenges to depicting so many characters in so relatively few pages. Siobhan, whose point of view shapes all the 1994 chapters, is most clearly rendered as a child. Andee's chapter is told from the perspective of her younger sister, Kayla, to whom Andee serves as a surrogate mother after their parents abandon them. While it's interesting to see the resilient, capable Andee through Kayla's eyes, Andee's interior life remains at a frustrating remove. Isabel and Dina, two ChineseCanadian girls from the Vancouver suburbs, are the most fascinating and intricately drawn. They're the only campers who have contact with each other after Forevermore, and are brought closer when Isabel takes a college class with Dina's brother. FU'S STRONGEST WRITING IS about Isabel, who, when rejected by a high school crush, "felt, for the first time, how ordinary she was. Saw in a flash of intuition the ordinary life before her, the ordinary, banal adulthood.... Her life in the audience." In college, Isabel dresses in "aggressively dowdy clothing," unlike her roommates, who are "better at keeping whatever private darkness they carried to themselves." An encounter with an Asian fetishist is chilling: "She lay there, mute, convinced she was inflicting this violence on herself." Dina's obsession with beauty makes her feel sorry for Isabel, who she feels has settled for "a dreamless existence so early in life." There's a gesture toward catharsis when Isabel and Dina reconnect, but Fu smartly resists sentimentality. The adult Siobhan, a researcher in child psychology, studies children knowing what "they were truly capable of." In the one-way glass of the novel, we watch the girls of Forevermore from a series of angles, in all their private anguishes. We lean closer, unable to turn away. ?

Library Journal Review

For five preteen Camp Forevermore girls, a simple overnight kayaking trip turns horrifying when their group leader dies mysteriously and the girls must find their way back alone. One insists on remaining with the corpse; the others leave and promise to send help. Interspersed with their dramatic quest are the girls' individual stories-each voiced by a separate narrator-before and after their Forevermore experience. -Soneela Nankani is precocious medical student Nita, who becomes a troubled mother of two. Andee's story, read by Tavia Gilbert, is told by her sister Kayla, who chronicles the peripatetic childhood driven by their self-absorbed single mother's whims. Nicol Zanzarella is Isabel, who finds brief happiness in marriage. Emily Woo Zeller chases Dina, who finds only disappointment in Los Angeles. Sophie Amoss is Siobhan, who narrates the camp ordeal and elliptically reveals her adulthood as a psychology researcher. Fu's (For Today I Am a Boy) exploration of the harrowing intersecting moment among young people who barely know each other is a fascinating puzzle of reactions and reverberations. -VERDICT Libraries should encourage the broader audiences Fu's work so deserves by providing her titles in all formats.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



CAMP FOREVERMORE The girls stood on the dock and sang the camp song, "Camp Forevermore." They sang in voices at worst bored or dutiful, but more often thrilled, chests swelling with unity and conviction, that feeling of being part of something larger than themselves, their brash, off-key voices combined into one grand instrument: "And I shall love my sisters/for-ev-er-more." In 1994, the song had echoed out over the Pacific Ocean for six decades. They stood straight-backed and solemn-faced as soldiers in formation, even the ones who itched to squirm, to collapse into their natural, slumped posture, who were rolling their toes in their shoes and humming to themselves, squeezing their lips in their fingers to suppress a bubble of nervous laughter. Counselors dragged plastic bins of orange life jackets from one of the storehouses adjacent to the dock. The life jackets varied in size and some had broken buckles and split seams. The girls picked through to find intact jackets that fit, the process both hurried and cautious, drawing attention to their newly divergent bodies. Ten-year-old Siobhan Dougherty snatched one and slid her arms through the holes. Would it reveal her to be too tall, too wide, too infantile, anything other than the universal girl-size implied by the unsorted bins? She fumbled to adjust the buckles and lengthen the straps, her fingers cold and stiff, until finally the jacket clicked shut. Satisfying clicks echoed up and down the dock. By some miracle, no one was left behind. Two days earlier, Siobhan had stepped through the wooden gates of Camp Forevermore for the first time. The group of low log buildings in a man-made clearing, at the nexus of forest and sea, looked just the way it had in the brochure. Upper-middle-class girls (and, as of 1976, a small group of need-based essay-contest winners) from up and down the northwest coast of North America, including both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, were sent to Forevermore, the name meant, like its religious and pseudo-Native American competitors, to project ancient knowledge. Nine-to-eleven-year-old girls would leave home fretful and finicky and return as capable, knowledgeable outdoorswomen, remade in the wholesomeness of woods and sisterhood. The best of its kind, crowed the brochure. Siobhan wanted to be more like the heroines of the books she liked, about girl detectives and girl adventurers: tomboyish, scrappy, and resourceful, able to outsmart adults and survive without them, her body sun-brown and waiflike. She was, instead, a freckled, blue-eyed redhead, pale and dense as a block of shortening, who wasn't allowed to use the stove. The one time she'd been left alone at home after dark, she'd turned on all the lamps, the TV, and the stereo, needing a protective shell of voices and light. Above all, she was looking forward to the kayaking trip, the central adventure of the first week. In small groups, the girls would kayak to a remote island and camp overnight. The brochure had stressed to parents that the overnight would build character and an appreciation of the outdoors within safe boundaries, but none of the pictures had adults in them. Just the campers, posing in their kayaks with their paddles triumphantly raised. Carrying firewood and military-style duffel bags in their twiggy arms, holding hands and jumping into the ocean. Bearing bold smiles of uneven teeth and no-nonsense braids and ponytails, these were girl pirates, girl spaceship captains, warrior princesses--the thrilling, independent societies of children that had existed only in Siobhan's books. Even on that first, clear afternoon, the dark earth between the gravel paths and the deep green of towering pine, fir, and spruce trees contained the memory of recent snow and rain. The ocean at the far end of the camp was the color of slate. Everything Siobhan was wearing was brand new: a black fleece she'd chosen for its silver heart-shaped zipper pull, her first pair of hiking boots, even her underwear. She felt a thrilling, terrifying dissolution of self. She was far from her parents, her classmates, anyone who had ever known her. She was curious to find out who she would be. The first day passed in a blur. The girls were shuffled from place to place, given a lecture and a quick meal, hurried to an early bedtime and an awkward silence in the cabins with their counselor-chaperones. The morning of the second day, they faced a swimming test, shivering and exposed as they eyed one another on the dock, then timed as they swam for fifty meters parallel to the shore. In sporty Speedo one-pieces, in childish frills and sea-creature patterns, the girls first noticed Dina Chang, a nine-year-old from Vancouver Island. There was nothing precisely remarkable about her appearance, her wholly prepubescent chest and legs and golden-brown skin in a black-and-white two-piece, but they could not keep their eyes off of her. Her every movement was magnetic. Girls brought her tied-together daisies, plastic bracelets, and toys they'd brought from home. Someone offered her the carton of chocolate milk from her morning snack. Dina shrugged and twirled a strand of her glossy black hair, like the attention was nothing new, no big deal. During one of the swim tests, the girls' conversations trailed off as one by one they stopped talking to watch. The girl in the water was struggling. She kept stopping to tread and change strokes, from a frantic, ineffectual crawl--kicking up geysers of water without gaining any forward momentum--to a pathetic-looking doggie paddle, fighting to keep her head up, a tangle of dirty-blond hair plastered across her face. Andee Allen was ten years old and from Seattle, Washington. "One of the scholarship girls," someone stage-whispered. One of the girls they should feel sorry for and be extra kind to. As the minutes ticked by and Andee continued to flounder in the water, the girls turned their attention to the counselors administering the test, particularly the one holding a stopwatch. They hadn't failed anyone, no matter how slow or poor her technique, as long as the camper could cross the distance somehow. But surely this was too much, and any minute now, they would jump in and tow or carry Andee to shore, and she wouldn't be allowed on the kayak trip. The adults looked transfixed by Andee. When Andee finally swam a little closer, Siobhan could see why: the determined set of her mouth, the ferocity in her eyes. How much she wanted to finish. She would finish, no matter what. It would be cruel to stop her. And more to the point, if they ever were stranded in the ocean, Andee--who had been in the water for what felt like an eternity--would be the last to go down. When Andee's hand slapped the far pillar of the dock, the counselors cheered. Two of them reached in and pulled her out by her forearms and the back of her swimsuit. Andee lay gasping on the planks like a fish in the open air. They had kayak lessons for the rest of the day, their first tangle with the life jackets. At the outset, their neon-green kayaks crowded the shallows of the beach, knocking against one another like rubber ducks let loose in a bathtub. By late afternoon, each girl could escape a rollover, do a forward paddle stroke, and self-propel in a straight line. At dinner, Siobhan was among the girls assigned to set the tables. Nita Prithi--eleven years old, from a midsize town in central California, in her third and final year at Forevermore--bossily led the group around, making the expansive gestures of a magician's assistant. "Here's where the forks and spoons are. Here are the cups. Here are the pitchers for water," she said. Nita was intimidating-looking, broad-shouldered with a heavy, clomping step, an oversize sweatshirt pulled down over early breasts, a wide mouth, and dark, expressive eyebrows. Another group of girls carried the steamer trays of food from the kitchen. Excerpted from The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.