by Katy Grant
2008 | 240 pages | Middle Grade (Ages 9-12)
Acting Out is the second book in Katy Grant's Summer Camp Secrets series. In this installment, Judith Duckworth heads off to Camp Pine Haven with two goals in mind - to forget the recent scandal that weighs heavily on her family, and to develop a whole new identity. From the moment she boards the camp bus, Judith becomes JD, a wisecracking jokester with a devil-may-care attitude. Before long, JD's antics are known camp-wide. She becomes close friends with the cool girls in her cabin, makes enemies with her swim instructor, and even gets caught sneaking off with a boy during a dance! All the time, she worries about what will happen when she runs out of punchlines. Will the people who like JD still like her as Judith? What happens when the summer ends and she goes back to being her boring old self?
Like the first book in the series, Pranked, this is a fast-paced summertime read filled with all kinds of lessons about friendship, identity, and growing up. JD's struggle to fit in and her desire to try on a new personality is something I think many girls in late elementary and middle school can relate to. Like Kelly in the first book, JD is a likable girl, and even when the reader knows she's doing the wrong thing, it's impossible not to sympathize with her and hope everything turns out okay in the end. I also really like the positivity in this book. For the most part, JD's camp friends aren't catty or petty - they're just normal girls having fun at summer camp.
This book also makes great use of suspense. Throughout the story, JD makes references to something her brother did that caused a lot of problems for her family, but we don't find out what happened until almost the very end. The big reveal coincides nicely with the moment where JD finally comes clean about who she really is when she's not at camp.
I also really love the way this story and the first one are interconnected. JD is mentioned briefly in Pranked, when Reb, Jennifer, and Kelly hoist a cabinmates' underwear up the flagpole. This book mentions many of the same events and people from the first book, and it seems like this trend will continue into Book 3, Friends Fornever, as well. There is no need to read these books in order, since they are self-contained, but I like the little connections you can make if you do read each and every one. It's very satisfying to see the way everything comes together, and it made the entire camp feel that much more real to me.
This is my second Summer Camp Secrets review. There will be six in all. To read my view of Pranked, click here. Next up - Friends Fornever!
I borrowed Acting Out from my local public library.
It's National Poetry Month! I'm celebrating by linking to a favorite poem at the end of every review I post in April.