Four Weeks, Five People
Four Weeks, Five People
Publisher's Hardcover16.44
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Annotation: Five troubled teens bond over their respective difficulties and form unexpected connections in their efforts to prove that they are more than their problems.
Catalog Number: #147272
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Harlequin
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 346 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-373-21230-5
ISBN 13: 978-0-373-21230-9
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Five teens are sent to a wilderness therapy camp for a month to work through mental illness in this debut novel. Clarissa wants to overcome her OCD; Ben is dissociative and lives through movies; Mason is a narcissist; Andrew struggles with anorexia; and sarcastic Stella battles anger and depression. Four weeks is a pretty quick time frame for a major psychological turnaround, but the group makes steady progress as they bond over hikes, late-night campfires, and romance. Somewhat predictably a tragedy strikes, but it's handled well, and the group members show continued growth through their individual narrative chapters. Throughout the story, the main characters' struggles are uniquely developed, and Yu portrays therapy in a positive light, helping to dismantle some of the stigma associated with mental illness. Readers looking for contemporary fiction that thoughtfully tackles the challenges inherent to psychological and emotional disorders will easily connect with this book. Shari Goldhagen's 100 Days of Cake (2016) and Susin Nielsen's Optimists Die First (2017) would make good companion titles.
Horn Book
Andrew, Ben, Clarisa, Stella, and Mason spend a month at Camp Ugunduzi, a "therapeutic wilderness program" for teens with mental health disorders. Together, they bond as a group and confront their individual issues (which include anorexia, narcissism, anxiety, OCD, and depression). The campers' genuine, prickly friendships take center stage in this story that acknowledges the difficult and sometimes impossible-seeming path to recovery.
Kirkus Reviews
Five teens work on their mental health during four weeks at a wilderness-therapy camp.Each teen speaks in this novel, revealing his or her individual issues: Stella has anger-management problems and depression; Clarisa has OCD; Andrew suffers from an eating disorder; Mason is a narcissist; and Ben is dissociative—his part of the narration is formatted as a movie script. At Camp Ugunduzi, a pricey therapy camp, the five teens (evidently white save for Asian Clarisa) will hike, meditate, and engage in group and solo talk therapy. While friendships form and romance blossoms among the campers as they create a Safe Space cabin, they're also working toward progress and dealing with setbacks. Andrew loses it when he gains weight. Clarisa and Ben's romance hits the rocks. Clarisa and Stella fight when Stella deals her some hard truths. Yet when tragedy (undescribed in the text) occurs, the group draws together to support each other, revealing just how far they've come. First-time novelist Yu does a good job of presenting the therapy process, capturing the words therapists use and realistically describing the uncertain arc of recovery. But choosing to stage the tragedy off-page mutes its impact, and the plethora of voices makes it hard to connect with all the characters. Though not perfect, moving and of interest to teens experiencing similar stresses. (Fiction. 14-16)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up- realistic debut novel set in upstate New York at Camp Ugunduzi, a wilderness therapy camp for troubled teens. The quickly paced story is told in alternating points of view among five unique and diverse campers, just introduced and grouped together during the four-week-long camp. Clarissa, who has obsessivecompulsive disorder, wants to get better and experience some "normal" teen activities. Andrew, whose eating disorder caused his band to break up, is guilt ridden and longs to recover. Ben, unable to separate fantasy from reality, prefers to go through life pretending to be in a movie, complete with voice-overs. Cold, unfeeling Stella has been to camp before and doesn't want to be back. Narcissistic Mason feels that he has no problem but is merely surrounded by idiots. Thrown together without social media or daily luxuries, the teens find themselves getting comfortable with one another, despite initial trepidation. One thing they all share is annoyance at the counselors: middle-aged hippie Josh and overbearing prude Jessie. When tragedy strikes, the teens' progress and outlook are tested. The emotionally charged yet hopeful ending will encourage understanding and empathy among even the most reluctant readers. Background material is added piecemeal as characters think back to the situations that brought them here. The book includes mature language and content (e.g., underage drinking and smoking). At times the work is raw and heartbreaking. The language is realistic, which teens will appreciate. VERDICT Recommended as a first purchase. Humorous scenes throughout will delight readers, despite the heavy subject matter.Laura Jones, Argos Community Schools, IN
Voice of Youth Advocates
What do a girl with obsessive compulsive disorder (Clarisa), a talented musician with an eating disorder (Andrew), a handsome narcissistic guy (Mason), an angry antisocial girl (Stella), and a boy who relies on movies to dissociate from reality (Ben) have in common? They are all in the middle of a New York state park for four weeks of rehab camp, sharing the experiences of wilderness therapy designed to help them “build healthy relationships with [them]selves and with each other.” Their days are structured with hikes and therapy activities, led by their two counselors, and planning and completing their group project of turning an unpainted, empty cabin into a welcoming, safe place for campers. At least as important as the daytime exercises are the group’s nighttime, semi-illicit activities, which bond them to each other in ways none of them would have anticipated. Romance, alcohol, a bit of marijuana, disillusionment, risk-taking, loyalty, and pushing boundaries add up to a lot of drama that can happen in four short weeks. Chapters alternate among the five young adults. Four are first-person narratives, while Ben’s chapters are written as scripts, representing how he relates to the world. Each narrative has its own lens on the camp experience and the group social interactions, giving readers a chance to experience the psychological and emotional complexities of navigating everyday life with the challenges of each mental illness. Engaging dialogue, realistic plot development, and authentic, optimistic character development will appeal to a range of readers, with or without firsthand knowledge of mental illness.—Kim Carter. Four Weeks, Five People is about a group of five teens, each suffering from a mental illness, at a rehabilitation camp to help young adults overcome disorders. Offering a realistic portrayal of a rehab program, with no perceptible plot holes and relatable characters, the book authentically portrays the struggles of young adults with mental illness in a way few other books on the subject do. This reviewer offers this opinion based on first-hand and academic knowledge of the nuances of living with mental illness. 4Q, 4P.—Anisa Amrani, Teen Reviewer.   
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/17)
Horn Book (8/1/17)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (3/1/17)
Reading Level: 7.0
Interest Level: 9-12

They're more than their problems 

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she's okay. 

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous. 

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality. 

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot. 

And Stella just doesn't want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy. 

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.

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