Review: Last Summer at Eden by Christina Hergenrader

Last Summer at EdenLast Summer At Eden
Christina Hergenrader
Concordia House
Published on March 1, 2017

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Last Summer at Eden
Poppi Savot needs a new direction. After her mother’s death to cancer, the smalltown Minnesota girl can’t seem to find her true north anymore. So when she gets a call from a small Christian camp in Southern California, Poppi races into the unknown, hoping a new job will solve everything.
When she arrives at Camp Eden, things already start falling apart. With camp enrollment at a record low and camp about to close for good, her new boss tells Poppi she may as well pack up and head straight back home. But Poppi isn’t giving up. Walking into Camp Eden, she felt the first stirring of peace since she lost her mom, and she’s not going to let go of that without a fight. Poppi rallies together the camp’s ragtag team of counselors and launches a plan to save Eden.

My Review
Last Summer at Eden might get the award for most fun book I’ve read this year. It absolutely felt like being away at summer camp! I loved the references to camp songs and all the emotional highs and lows of the campers plus all the drama that comes from being in close quarters with strangers for ten weeks.

The romance part of the story is sweet and doesn’t dominate. I liked that Poppi figures things out for herself, and that it’s not a “hey, a man has the answers,” kind of story. I also liked the balance between Poppi’s goal of saving the camp and the evolution of her relationship with God.

Last Summer at Eden has some unforgettable characters, too. I loved Wolfgang, the German foreign exchange counselor and the cook obsessed with recycling. And Nat! The enthusiastic, cheerleader who tells the truth straight-up, best friend everyone needs. Everyone seriously needs a Nat in their lives.

The only thing I kind of wished were different about this book is that it were told from the perspective of a younger character (like one of the counselors). That would have placed it more solidly within the young adult arena. At nineteen, Poppi’s a little older than the average young adult heroine.

I liked the book anyway, and I think readers who enjoy books by Laura L. Smith (everyone needs a little Laura L. Smith in their lives, just like Nat!) will absolutely love Last Summer at Eden.

Readers looking for a clean and also hilariously fun camp story really need this one on their reading lists. This is the perfect read for summer or the next best thing when summer feels like a distant memory.

Last Summer at Eden on AmazonRecommended for Ages 12 up.

Cultural Elements
Major characters are white or not physically described.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Brief kissing between boy and girl.
Camp counselors talk to a couple of the kids (individually) about saving sex for marriage after they’re caught sneaking out to meet up at night. The talk is pretty vague, referring to sex as “the good stuff” and talking about how other kids might brag that they’re “doing stuff”, etc.

Spiritual Content
Poppi wrestles with feeling abandoned by God. She realizes through trying to save Camp Eden that she stopped believing God will take care of her and is trustworthy. Through her experiences at camp and her efforts to save Eden, she faces the root of those feelings—losing her mom—and begins to rebuild her trust in God.
Violent Content
None.

Drug Content
Poppi’s dad is an alcoholic. She talks about this as a struggle for her personally in that she wants to invite him into her life but knows she has to have boundaries. For instance, she wants to invite him to camp but feels like he won’t be able to enjoy a visit without drinking, and that will present a lot of problems for everyone, so she doesn’t invite him.

Last Summer at Eden on Goodreads

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

2 Responses to Review: Last Summer at Eden by Christina Hergenrader

  1. Colleen Phillips says:

    As you already know, I absolutely loved this book too. It was like (cliche alert!) a breath of fresh air. It sincerely was. So glad I read it. I hope it wins awards and gets five-star ratings on Goodreads.

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