Book Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

Book Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski is a book I was excited for since I love a a summer camp setting. The descriptions of the camp the main character works at are vivid, and it was easy to imagine being there. However, I disliked her immaturity and the way she continually attempts to justify cheating on her boyfriend. Ultimately, I was disappointed with this one.

Book Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little CanoeTitle: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe
Series: I See London, I See France #2
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: May 19, 2020

three-stars
Summary (from Goodreads):

Sam’s summer isn’t off to a great start. Her boyfriend, Eli, ditched her for a European backpacking trip, and now she’s a counselor at Camp Blue Springs: the summer camp her eleven-year-old self swore never to return to. Sam expects the next seven weeks to be a total disaster.

That is, until she meets Gavin, the camp’s sailing instructor, who turns her expectations upside down. Gavin may have gotten the job just for his abs. Or that smile. Or the way he fills Sam’s free time with thrilling encounters—swimming under a cascade of stars, whispering secrets over s’mores, embarking on one (very precarious) canoe ride after dark.

It’s absurd. After all, Sam loves Eli. But one totally absurd, completely off-the-wall summer may be just what Sam needs. And maybe, just maybe, it will teach her something about what she really wants.

Perfect for fans of 99 Days and Anna and the French Kiss, this unforgettable, sun-drenched summer romance from one of YA’s bestselling and most beloved authors, Sarah Mlynowski, is an irresistible dive into the joys of seizing the day and embracing the unexpected.

Amazon “Book

❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃


Book Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

This book tells the story of a girl who is offered a position as a camp counsellor while her boyfriend is away in Europe. She is hesitant to accept due to some bad memories associated with the camp from her time there as a camper, but she ultimately takes the job. While at the camp, she tries to reclaim a positive camp experience, and she finds herself getting closer with the camp’s sailing instructor.

❀ Evokes a Sense of Nostalgia

I love books about summer camp, and the way the camp is depicted in this book is very strong. There are classic camp activities including Colour Wars and a mini canoe trip, and this evoked a sense of nostalgia. At the beginning of every section, the campers’ schedules are shown, and I thought this was a fun detail. Each girl in Sam’s bunk has her own unique quirk, and I loved getting to know everyone at the camp, from counsellors to campers.

❀ Immature Main Character

Unfortunately, this immersive camp experience was all I really enjoyed about the book. I had some major issues with Sam and her actions. One thing that bothered me was the fact that there is a disconnect between her age and her actions. She is 19, but her voice reads more like that of a 14 year old. She is in college, but she is still so bothered by a nickname that she was given at camp 8 years ago. I understand that she did not have a positive experience at camp, but I personally didn’t get why she would spend so much time stressing over a nickname from so long ago. Sam does have some redeeming qualities, such as defending her friends, but this was not enough for me to forgive her for another major issue: cheating.

❀ No consequences for actions

Sam spends the entire book cheating on her boyfriend with Gavin, and I didn’t feel like this book did enough to show that it was wrong. I am not a fan of books about cheating, and it’s my bad for picking this one up when the summary implies that this type of content will be in the book, but Sam’s behaviour would have been tolerable (at best) if she faced more consequences. I wasn’t convinced that she understood that what she was doing was wrong, or why it was wrong, and she continues to try and justify her actions. Also, I didn’t like the message she sends that cheating is fine under certain conditions.

Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe by Sarah Mlynowski is a book that has so much potential with its wholesome camp vibes, but I couldn’t get past the main character’s behaviour. She is immature, and she almost promotes cheating. If you are fine with reading about this topic, you may enjoy this book, but unfortunately, it was not for me.

About Sarah Mlynowski

Sarah Mlynowski

Sarah was born in Montreal, Canada. After graduating with an honors degree in English literature from McGill University, she moved to Toronto to work for Harlequin Enterprises. While she never met Fabio, she used her romance publishing experiences to fuel her first novel Milkrun.

Sarah's books have been translated into twenty-nine languages and optioned to Hollywood. She now lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

  1. Sophie says:

    Ha damn I would have HATED this! i can’t stand cheating nor immature characters for what matters. Thank you for the honest review!

  2. Jane says:

    This book has such great appeal to me because I’m all about that summer camp setting! But it’s sad to hear that you were disappointed with this one. Knowing that the main character was immature and that justifying cheating was a big part in the story, those threw me off a lot so I don’t see myself picking this one up. Loved your review though! x
    Jane recently posted…Um, hello… Is this thing on?

  3. Marty Robbins says:

    I love summer camp and have great memories, but the minor theme of cheating makes this book less appealing, for sure.

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