“Death and Love at the Old “Summer Camp” by Dolores Maggiore— The Summer of ’59

Maggiore, Dolores. “Death and Love at the Old Summer Camp”, Sapphire Books, 2017.

The Summer of ‘59

Amos Lassen

Sixteen-year-old Pina was not looking forward to the summer of 1959 because she had experiences so many boring summers in Maine with her parents at Owl Lake Lodge. She did, however, look want to see Katie again even though she did not really care for hanging with her in the cabins of the old boys’ camp. This changed when she saw Katie who seemed to be so much cuter than previous summers but she could not figure out why she felt this way. Whenever the two girls were together, Pina became both nervous and excited. Lately Pina found herself daydreaming a lot and in them her dead seemed to be telling her things that had to do with love and… with Katie. But these dreams were also about death.

As the summer moved forward so did Pina’s feelings for Katie and there was even more excitement when Doc, Katie’s dad and his friend Joe began with stories about camp and death. Something very strange was going on.

We are taken back in time to that year where Pina and Katie became adolescents and faced the typical teen issues of insecurities and fears along side of the senses of hope and young love and a very mysterious ghost story. Delores Maggiore beautifully brings together mystery and adolescence and has us turning pages as quickly as possible. What a wonderful combination— coming out and coming of age and a real mystery.

The discovery of a mystery, along with her new paranormal feelings and sense of a buried sexuality make this a new kind of summer for Pina. I was so reminded of the summers I spent at camp and the wonderful stories that came out of those times. Maggiore’s sense of detail permeates the entire story and every once in a while I had to pinch myself in order to realize that I was reading and not a part of the story.

Katie and Pina feel that she knows that something terrible happened when their parents were kids at camp and Pina relives some of this through her dreams. Katie becomes her support and her lover although she does not know how to deal with that.

I do not want to ruin the read but I will add that when the girls learn that Katie’s father had a homosexual encounter when he attended camp. Then there was an unreported murder and as the girls find clues to what happened that summer, they also find each other as past and present come together.

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