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Though written for young will be joyfully read by women of all ages
on 23 May 2014
Thea Atwell is not easy to love. She is somewhat spoiled, lazy and seemingly insensitive towards others' needs and feelings. Her longing are not common for fifteen year-old girl, desires are forbidden, and passions are getting out of control very easily. Her parents know that, and because of that reason they will send her to a riding camp Yonahlossee, reserved exclusively for girls. In their view, this is done for Thea to learn behaving in the company of other girls and adults. But Thea thinks that being in Yonahlossee is punishment for the shame she had inflicted on family and the way how the parents got rid of her.
If the reader wants to be fair critic to this girl, we should think how difficult was to grow up in the American South, in the wake of the Great Depression, only a few years after women in the United States gained the right to vote, at a time when the girls were still only the daughters of their fathers. For Thea additional weight for growing up was the alienation of her family from the rest of the world, while her twin brother Sam and two years older brother George are the only boys in her world. And the first sexual curiosities and turning to desires into a young woman's body, directed to the first available person of the opposite sex.
It is this "sin" that leads her to Yonahlossee, equestrian camp and boarding school for girls – Thea’s new home in the most sensitive year of her life when she started growing up and maturing. There comes to the fore her love of horses, riding talent, but also a tendency towards forbidden, inaccessible or impossible, regardless of whether it is the question of the equestrian feats or unusual and forbidden relationship with twice elderly camp director, Mr. Holmes.
Although at first glance it does not seem so, with the passage of time Thea herself realizes that all of her battles and turmoil of life she emerged as victor because, although few time she disappointed her parents, at no time she did not disappoint herself. And that is the lesson that, as an adult, as a bit aged narrator, she is trying to share with readers of Thea Atwell story, a rebellious young girl on the threshold of girlhood whose transformation into a girl was accompanied by a seemingly strange, and for so young age too sensual experiences.
'The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls’ a debut novel by American author Anton DiSclafani, became one of the most anticipated novels in 2013 and this title was largely justified. The story of a girl growing up in an era when the very notion of the girlhood was starting to emerge in fine manner is interwoven with eroticism whose charge DiSclafani uses in the right way - subtle, unspoken, but very present homoerotic scenes evokes youthful doubts about her sexuality while in powerful and explosive scenes of heterosexual relationship brings back the memories of the strength of such experiences felt for the first time.
Properly arranged are the other elements that make growing up so complex process, such as the search for our own ego, relationships with other girls and realizing ourselves through these relationships, to some extent a competitive relationship with her mother and complex relationship with her father.
Although written for a younger audience, this novel will be joyfully, though in different ways, read by women in all stages of their life journey – for girls it will often serve as an answer to the question "whether my thoughts are normal", for mothers it will be helpful to better understand their daughters and for women who for left behind long ago the girl age will be beautiful reminder that will take them back vividly to that period.