14 June 2013

Imprint Friday: The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Riverhead Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

I don't know what I was expecting when I sat down to read Anton DiSclafani's The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. I knew the story would involve horses and teenage girls, but the rest of the novel came as complete and thought-provoking surprise.

Here's the publisher's summary:

It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.
As I mentioned in my Bloggers Recommend writeup of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, DiSclafani creates a misty, dreamy atmosphere that fits both the humid southern setting and Thea's confusion and uncertainty as she finds a way to move past her childhood and to step bravely into her future.

DiSclafani was wise to set this story in 1930, a time of great economic and social change, especially for old-money families in decline. Thea and the girls she meets at Yonahlossee are caught between their childhood expectations of marrying rich and being pampered and the realities of needing a real education that could allow them to earn a living. Yet their parents have invested their resources in their sons, freely admitting that their daughters are worth less, matter less. These historical circumstances color Thea's life both before and after her shame and banishment.

The novel is told in alternating time periods, so we learn what happened to Thea only slowly. Scenes of her family life are interwoven with her adjustment to boarding school and her self-awakening. We might not condone her behavior, but by the end of the novel, we sympathize with her situation and have a better understanding of what motivates her choices.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a story about twins, family dynamics, parenthood, and growing up. And throughout it all are the horses Thea loves. They are her constants, her means of connecting to others, and the source of both her troubles and her happiness. Anton DiSclafani's debut novel is strong in period details, the examination of women's issues, and the world of horses. It's sure to be one of the much-discussed books of the summer.

For more about Anton DiSclafani, visit her website,  like her Facebook page, and follow her Twitter.

Riverhead Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, visit the Riverhead website. While there, explore their terrific book list, check out authors in the news, and view some fun videos. Stay in the know by following them on Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

Published by Penguin USA / Riverhead, 2013
ISBN-13: 9781594486401
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).

Imprint Friday Survey Results: I want to thank everyone who responded to my survey. I was grateful that so many of you took the time to answer the questions. The overwhelming conclusion is that you look forward to my Imprint Friday posts. With the help and support of the publishers, publicists, and marketing people I work with, Imprint Friday will remain a regular feature of Beth Fish Reads. At the same time, with your encouragement, I've decided to ease up on my self-made stress and may on occasion write a different kind of post for a Friday, if that's what makes sense at the moment.


Swapna 6/14/13, 9:43 AM  

You know, this book didn't appeal to me when I first heard about it, but it's one that everyone has been saying great things about. I may have to reconsider.

I'm glad you're continuing Imprint Friday, but I totally agree that it shouldn't be stressful. That's the approach (stress-free!) I've decided to take with my blog as well.

bermudaonion 6/14/13, 10:26 AM  

This book has been getting terrific buzz - I've been excited about it ever since I met the author at BEA!

Beth Hoffman 6/14/13, 12:28 PM  

I have the ARC of this book and hope to find the time to crack the spine soon!

Miriam 6/14/13, 6:24 PM  

One of my customers was raving about this book yesterday. Thanks for the review.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 6/14/13, 9:13 PM  

Definitely hope to read this one over the summer. Glad you blogged about it.

caite 6/15/13, 5:13 AM  

"equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes"...who knew there was such a thing.

(Diane) bookchickdi 6/15/13, 9:38 AM  

When I first saw this book awhile ago, I didn't think it would be something I would find interesting, but I have read so many great reviews from people, now I think I must read it.

Julie P. 6/24/13, 6:24 PM  

Great review! I read this one on my way to BEA and I need to write up my review. So far behind!

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