Review: Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita

General Information

Page Count: 304 pages
Publication Date: May 1st, 2009
Age Range: Young Adult
Source: Purchased
Goodreads: Sleepaway Girls



Official Summary

“When Sam’s best friend gets her first boyfriend, she’s not ready to spend the summer listening to the two of them call each other “pookie.” Sick of being a third wheel, Sam applies to be a counselor-in-training at Whispering Pines camp in the New York Catskills. But what she doesn’t realize is that it’s not going to be all Kumbaya sing-alongs and gooey s’mores. If Ashley, the alpha queen of Whispering Pines, doesn’t ruin Sam’s summer, then her raging crush on the surfer-blond and flirtatious Hunter just might. At least she has playful Cole, who’s always teasing her, but is oh-so-comfortable to hang out with, and the singular gang of girls that become fast friends with Sam-they call themselves the Sleepaway Girls.” (Source)


Sleepaway Girls is the epitome of trashy teen fiction and I LOVE IT. When this book arrived in the mail, I opened the package, curled up on my couch and finished it before dinner time. In the first two pages alone I was already cracking up. (Most of my enjoyment came out of all the late 2000s references, but I DIGRESS.)

My reaction of this book was built on two things: my nostalgia for my teenage years and my love for camp. It was the perfect Saturday afternoon binge read when I needed a break from the heavier books on my nightstand. However, if I had read this when the book came out, I would’ve been 16 and would’ve thought reading it was a waste of time.

Calonita’s main theme of Sleepaway Girls was the source of independence you earn as you get older and learn to stand up for yourself. Our main character Sam becomes a counselor-in-training (or CIT) for two main reasons: to get away from her smothering best friend and to learn some responsibility as she enters her late teens. Sam is portrayed as a capable, promising, generally nice kid, and is well-liked by her friends and the adults around her.

I was excited to read about girls learning how to be assertive, especially in a camp-setting, but Calonita’s approach fell flat. I felt the independence theme was shoved down your throat as a last minute “oh, yeah” towards the end of the book, and the great friends Sam built throughout the book was drowned by the overload on crushes and boy-drama. As a 2009 YA novel, I was expecting a romance subplot but I wasn’t expecting it from every single character.

By the time I read through the second chapter, I predicted about 90% of the plot. Sleepaway Girls is full of YA tropes and clichés, from the bad-boy/nice-guy love triangle to the “popular mean girl is just jealous” tropes, nothing in the book was surprising.

My most major complaint about Sleepaway Girls is the subtle negative body-image commentary. There were quite a few “but I’m not skinny enough” lines scattered throughout the book to make me uncomfortable. One line that sticks out to me is a counselor encouraging Sam to run because it’s “bathing suit season!” Ugh.

Overall however, I enjoyed reading Sleepaway Girls. It was a simple, mindless read, a great way to round out the end of the summer with another summer fluff book. I loved reading about flip phones and Juicy tracksuits, and my favorite part of the entire book was when Sam got “dressed up” wearing an American Eagle polo shirt and rhinestone flip flops.



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