Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: The Spirit of Kilapea
AUTHOR: D. H. Starr
PUBLISHER: Rocky Ridge Books
LENGTH: 152 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 16, 2017
Can one summer change the lives of two young men?
All-American boy Nick Pinchert, popular, athletic, envied by the jocks and desired by the girls—or that’s what he wants everyone to think. Deep down, he harbors a secret he fears will rip his world apart. His summers of leadership at sleep-away camp are sacred, a time to let go of trying to meet others’ expectations and just be himself…mostly.
Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Kip Davenport has everything except parents who care about him. He’s grown up shipped from boarding school to boarding school, and Camp Kilapea is one more holding station where he needs to claw his way to the top by tearing others down. Placed in a leadership position he hasn’t earned, Kip plans to deal with the extra resentment the same way he always has.
When the two meet, the attraction is immediate, terrifying Nick and providing Kip with the perfect target for his manipulations. But Camp Kilapea’s teachings challenge even the most obstinate. The three pillars of body, mind, and spirit force campers and leaders alike to examine their choices and to become better people.
But is the spirit of Kilapea strong enough to force Nick and Kip to lower their guards and let each other in?
I’ve read this author before, but only a couple of times, and I had no idea he also writes young adult stories. And let’s be clear, this is very much a young adult story. The most you can expect to find sex wise is a few references to Kip’s past explorations and on page we get to witness some kisses between the main characters. For myself, I really enjoy these books that focus on the confusion of teenage insecurities without adding sex to the mix. So just be aware, I thought this story was great, but it’s actually more about finding the strength to be yourself, rather than a romance.
So this one time, at youth camp…
For the last ten years, Nick has been spending two months of summer at Camp Kilapea. He’s worked his way up to the top position, he’s in charge of all the leaders who have the job of wrangling hundreds of younger campers. For the last few years, ever since Nick has realized that he’s gay, those two months have been the time out from his home life that he’s needed. Because at home and school, Nick is scared to be the person he truly is. But at Kilapea, he’s free. But this year, Kip, has been given the position of Nick’s second in command. Kip, an absolute newbie who didn’t work his way up through the ranks like everyone else. Right from the start, this summer is different from the safe, familiar routine that Nick is use to. And he’s not sure how to deal with that.
I’m a bit of a sucker for summer camp stories and this one drew me in right from the beginning. At first I thought Nick was one of those eye-rollingly grown up teens, but then I realized that that was simply the image he was trying to live up to. In actual fact, the author did a great job of writing these teens as teens. Their thoughts and emotions are all over the place, and what’s going on in their heads doesn’t necessarily match their actions. But you can’t say – well, that’s out of character – because the whole point of this story is that they are trying to find out who they really are.
I would have really loved to know what happened next for Nick and Kip. Even though you get the impression that this will simply be a summer romance, even if “next” is Kip and Nick going back to their lives beyond Kilapea and finding their first real boyfriends.
This book certainly won’t be for everyone. If you don’t like books with teens, then don’t look here. And if you’re looking for something with sexy bits, then this isn’t the book for you. But if like me, you sometimes feel the need to read something with rather innocent teenage emotions, then you might enjoy The Spirit of Kilapea as much as I did.