By Kaitlan Tatro
“The odds of finding love are one in 285,000, but the probability of getting married is 80 percent. There seems to be a discrepancy here.”- Grover Cleveland
In the rainy and stormy winter, The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane was a great read to escape to a summer camp of fun, feeling, and friendship. Set at Camp Padua in Michigan, Crane brings together a group of misfit teenagers, brought together by their various troubles and disorders. These campers are there for various reasons, but are united by the fact that they all struggle with something in their life.The main character Zander doesn’t believe she fits in with this group of at-risk teens, however, as her journey through the camp progresses, she learns more about herself than she thought she would. By the end of the book, Crane is able to show the realities of their disorders and hardships that many teenagers face, and is able to show the power of love and friendship in one’s life.
The book begins with Zander arriving to Camp Padua, against her own wishes. Upon her arrival she meets her unwelcoming and cold roommate Cassie. Cassie is gaunt in stature, but is loud in attitude as she speaks her mind, with little to no filter. Acting tough on the outside, she keeps her secrets and feelings bottled up. Next, Zander meets Grover Cleveland, aptly named after the President. Grover believes any day he will become schizophrenic, since his dad has been diagnosed. He wants to be prepared, so he goes to Camp Padua every summer. To round out the group, she meets Bek. A charming boy from Canada, who is a pathological liar. Their little group has vast differences in personality and appearance, but together they become a unit of friendship.
The motto of the camp, that gets repeated constantly by counselors and campers is “the only way to be found, is to admit we’re lost.” Each camper and character in the story confronts the fact that they are lost, lost in the world that is life. The characters each face something they try to overcome whether it is an eating disorder, anxiety, compulsive lying, or more. The characters begin to reveal their secrets and as they become undone, they are able to become whole once again. Zander herself goes on this journey and the way Crane wrote and un-pieced her story was brilliant as we, the readers, were able to un-piece and come to terms with her secret with her.
As the title may lead you to believe, this story is a romance about two teenagers, Zander and Grover. The relationship that sticks out to me the most though was Zander and Cassie’s. Through group “shareapy,” swimming lessons, mess hall meals, and late night adventures, the girls find a way to form a friendship that has its tests, but ultimately becomes strong and true. Through this crazy experience called growing up, added to that their inner demons and societal pressures, these girls find friendship in each other. Crane proves the power of friendship and the power of reaching out to someone in times of need.
Crane is amazing in her descriptive imagery as she paints Camp Padua so you feel as if you were there. And with these setting descriptions she creates a world where these real characters feel every part of life: joy, hope, fear, and even pain. She masterfully creates three dimensional characters who are struggling with something in their life and she is able to show these struggles in both a realistic and entertaining way, a way in which the reader can learn and empathize with them. Personally, I do not consider myself to be a part of the at-risk group, but while reading the book I felt like I knew where they were coming from and I felt empathy towards the characters, I rejoiced when they found happiness, and cried when they felt pain. I wasn’t lost when I read the book, but like Camp Padua’s motto, I really felt that I had watched as the characters bared all so I could see the outcome and the revitalization of their lives.
The story contains secrets, hardships, and struggles, but there is an overwhelming overcome of hope and love, a nice reminder that life can be sticky, but friendships can prevail.
This is a great read and if you would like to read it, you can purchase it
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA): www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
Teen Mental Health: http://teenmentalhealth.org
Impact Young Adults: http://www.impactyoungadults.org/
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-TALK (8255) and http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/