Summer Sleep-Away

Ofer Aronskind
iUniverse (2013)
ISBN 9781475977561

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (7/13)

Article first published as Book Review: ‘Summer Sleep-Away’ by Ofer Aronskind on Blogcritics. 

“Summer Sleep Away” by Ofer Aronskind is Mattie Kleinfeld’s account of experiences at his first summer camp. In this first person narrative Mattie openly discusses his feeling of his insecurity resulting from building tension between his parents, and the ambivalence of being sent off for two months of summer camp.

Aronskind skillfully introduces characters that play an important part in Mattie’s camping experiences of the next two months. Aronskind understands her pre-teen and teen reader and skillfully interjects Mattie’s keen observations into the personality and uniqueness of each of these characters, told in language young readers will identify with.

Mattie’s seat partner on the bus, Beni, and his bunkmate Areyeh Rabinowitz are typical of Aronskind’s use of wit and tongue-in-cheek humor as she describes the insecurities of adolescence throughout the story.

Most of the campers are returning for another summer at the camp and have already established friendships and are slow to accept newbies. Not knowing anyone and already shy and misunderstood, Mattie, who is overcome with rejection, loneliness, and homesickness buries his face in his pillow and cries himself to sleep on his first night at camp.

Soon Mattie gains inroads in to friendship and respect among his peers and becomes involved in canoe trips swimming and sports. Mattie also becomes deeply infatuated with his first girlfriend. However, the key to making this Mattie’s summer adventure of a lifetime comes from a clue he discovers while on a nature hike.

Mattie’s appreciation for nature and Aronskind’s skill at descriptive writing are demonstrated by the following:  “A fine mist hung in the air; a leftover from the passing storm. I liked the smell of the woods and the richness of the wet soil. I looked up at the thick canopy of trees.”

In “Summer Sleep Away,” author Ofer Aronskind captures the imagination of readers, young and old alike, transcending any age barriers. Highly recommended.

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