The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland

7 CDs. 7:50 hrs. Brilliance. Nov. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781531846015. digital download.
Gr 7 Up—Camp Padua, a five-week summer camp in Michigan for "lost" teens, is the meeting ground for four unlikely friends: Zander, an apathetic girl who is "nowhere"; Cassie, a self-diagnosed teen with bipolar disorder, anorexia, and an attitude; Bek, a compulsive liar; and Grover Cleveland, who believes he is "pre-crazy," based on his father's mental illness and his own obsession with dead presidents. Crane treats the characters sensitively, enabling listeners to develop an emotional connection with them, especially as they all reveal their tragic backstories. There are some important, subtle messages here, such as that most adults were once "lost" teens themselves. But some messages are repeated and feel forced, such as, "It's easier to find yourself if others help you look" or "The only way to be found is to admit you're lost." In the end, one of the four unhappy campers falls apart, and Crane wraps up the plot a little too quickly and unrealistically. Narrator Caitlin Kelly's diverse vocal characterizations bring these teens to life. Her smooth and silky narration and ability to convey vulnerability, heartbreak, and hope enhance the novel.
VERDICT A positive tale of friendship that some teens need and want to hear.

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