Camilla by Madeleine L’Engle

camilla.jpgLife has always been easy for 15-year old Camilla Dickinson. She receives good grades at her private Manhattan high school, visits the MOMA and Central Park on weekends with her best friend Luisa, and is adored by her handsome father and beautiful mother. But nothing perfect can last, including Camilla’s dreamy childhood. Suddenly, things around her start crumbling; her parents begin bickering, her mother falls into a depression, and her father threatens to send Camilla to boarding school. In the midst of this turbulence, Camilla falls in love with Luisa’s older brother Frank. The young couple walks hand-in-hand through the streets of New York, talking about life, family, God, and war. These are the most grown-up days of Camilla’s life, and she wonders if the world around her has really changed, or if she’s only looking at it with new eyes. Once again, Madeleine L’Engle delivers a realistic portrait of what it’s like to be young and waking up to the promises and realities of life. My favorite thing about the novel, though, is its description of 1950’s New York City. How lucky Camilla is to spend her days in nights in such a romantic, exciting place! It made me quite wistful, actually, and sorry that I’ll never get a chance to visit.

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