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Four Weeks, Five People


Four Weeks, Five People

On the first day of camp, hundreds of hopeful teens, but more likely parents, arrive at Camp Ugunduzi and leave the teens there for four weeks in the middle of nowhere at a wilderness therapy camp. Four weeks of spending all day-every day with two counselors and four other teens that have different disorders or struggles as you do in a wilderness therapy camp.

For Clarissa, this sounds like her worst nightmare. Her mother is putting her through this in efforts to help her OCD and give her a “normal teenage experience.” Andrew is desperately trying to overcome his eating disorder and forgive himself for letting his rock band down. Ben would rather spend his days watching all of the great movies that are filled with dramatic monologues than go on wilderness hikes. Mason doesn’t know why he is there, and he wants to get back to people who are more competent with his image. Stella is dreading yet another summer of therapy sessions and “Art by the Fire Fridays.”

"FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE is my new favorite story....Jennifer Yu used a creative setting, characters and situation to make a real story with character-reader connection...inspiring and powerful."

These five teenagers all face problems they want to overcome, and they are challenged do it together. From the first day, the five are put together for therapy, meals, hikes, camp activities and a group project they have to complete by the end of camp. With the help of their two group counselors, Josh and Jessie, they are instructed to learn more about each other and themselves to grow stronger than the challenges they face. As the teens begin to form relationships with one another, they learn more and more about the other’s struggles as well as how they can overcome their own. Different setbacks and achievements occur individually between the protagonists and their relationships as the story flows. However they may fight their progress, an event of tragedy brings the group together in support and understanding. In FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE the protagonists begin to learn that they are “more than their problems” and admire how much they have grown over camp.

FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE was a story filled with creativity, humor and inspiration no matter who you are as a reader. Although the characters were from different backgrounds and had separate experiences from me, I felt connected to all of them. Stella was full of sarcasm and gave everyone else the “reality check” that kept the book away from a cliché or stereotypical storyline. Andrew was emotional and showed true struggle; he brought a lot of raw feelings between the reader and characters. Ben was the particularly dramatic, often misunderstood protagonist who had experiences that not many people would understand. He helped me realize that sometimes I can’t feel true understanding for characters and that even people with small quirks can be facing a much bigger challenge. Mason gave the story humor and charm that helped to break some of the more tense times of the story. Clarissa showed true strength and inspiration for the reader. All of the characters brought different story elements to the overall flow and plot. The plot did move a little slower than I would expect in a “timeline story,” but the change in point of view and uplifting moments made the book still very captivating. The story’s realistic elements were the most interesting. For example, the way the author intertwined the therapeutic process and how the camp changed the characters were my favorite elements of the book.

Overall, FOUR WEEKS, FIVE PEOPLE is my new favorite story featuring teens with mental or physical disorders. The way Jennifer Yu used a creative setting, characters and situation to make a real story with character-reader connection was very inspiring and powerful. To any teen out there hoping to find an engaging story with touching moments, this story is the one for you.

Reviewed by Lillian B., Teen Board Member on September 20, 2018

Four Weeks, Five People
by Jennifer Yu