‘Camper Girl’

For young readers looking for adventure

Camper girl

The road up Whiteface also appears in “Camper Girl” (Fitzroy Books, 2020), a Young Adult novel by Glenn Erick Miller. Eighteen-year-old Shannon Burke, unable to afford college, goes on a solo quest to the Adirondacks from her home near Utica. She’s inherited her favorite aunt’s old camper and also a set of clues to a scavenger hunt that draws her deeper into the mountains. The adventures pile up—a night alone lost in the woods near Speculator, a pepper spray defense against a man who has broken into her camper, a tough hike up Blue Mountain. In Tupper Lake she discovers a disturbing family secret and follows her aunt’s clues to Saranac Lake, where she rents a kayak and paddles with Josh, a kindred spirit who might be interested in romance.

As Shannon nears Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain calls to her and she decides to drive up its road. Bicyclists roll by as her camper sputters and dies. Inspired by the cyclists, Shannon walks toward the summit. “I felt a growing excitement that I was walking inside the clouds! I had no view of what lay ahead. I couldn’t see the road behind me, either. All I had was that one moment and then the next.” 


Shannon’s Adirondack adventures open her eyes to the wider world, but when she needs a ride her parents arrive within a few hours to rescue her as she waits at the Wilmington Motor Lodge. I liked the way this compact book let Shannon feel independent in a far-away mountainous land when she was actually close to home. 

— Betsy Kepes