Review of Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe

Sarah Mylnowski

May 19, 2020


Blurb: Perfect for fans of 99 Days and Anna and the French Kiss, this unforgettable, sun-drenched summer romance from one of YA’s bestselling and most beloved authors, Sarah Mlynowski, is an irresistible dive into the joys of seizing the day and embracing the unexpected.

Sam’s summer isn’t off to a great start. Her boyfriend, Eli, ditched her for a European backpacking trip, and now she’s a counselor at Camp Blue Springs: the summer camp her eleven-year-old self swore never to return to. Sam expects the next seven weeks to be a total disaster.

That is, until she meets Gavin, the camp’s sailing instructor, who turns her expectations upside down. Gavin may have gotten the job just for his abs. Or that smile. Or the way he fills Sam’s free time with thrilling encounters—swimming under a cascade of stars, whispering secrets over s’mores, embarking on one (very precarious) canoe ride after dark.

It’s absurd. After all, Sam loves Eli. But one totally absurd, completely off-the-wall summer may be just what Sam needs. And maybe, just maybe, it will teach her something about what she really wants.

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I never went to camp so I find books about people going to camp or returning later to camp as a counselor interesting, intriguing, like looking at how other kids lives. Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe is not the first Sarah Mylnowski novel I’ve read about camp, but in the other, the characters were much younger and definitely felt younger.

While Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe seems to be classified as YA, I’d classify it as NA because of the sexiness and the characters ages, 19 to 20+.

Sam’s boyfriend, Eli, has gone off to Europe to backpack with his Israeli cousin leaving her behind, uninvited and somewhat miffed. When a paying opportunity arises for her to return to the camp she attended only once where one of the most humiliating events of her life (hey, she’s young, we all know things get worse) occurred, she decides to do it. She’s changed. She’s different. She’s stronger.

But while Sam’s changed and has grown stronger, she’s also still looking for affirmation. She’s still insecure. She can still disappoint. Even herself and others.

The themes of bullying, slut-shaming, and cheating are intertwined in the novel. Sam is human and shows just how human she is. She wavers between doing what’s right and doing what feels good and finds that it’s a hard line. She discovers that she isn’t always a good person–she’s human. And, I think that’s part of what really makes Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe work. The realization that none of us are perfect. We have the capability of hurting others and bringing sorrow, sometimes because of our insecurities and need to fit in.

I appreciated the fact that Mylnowski didn’t give us happiness and roses and some implausible ending. Hey, at 19 life’s just beginning, not ending, and everyone’s still learning and I like that openness.

I found the ending satisfying because I partially expected it and may have even expected it to occur sooner.

Just a Boy and a Girl in a Little Canoe drew me in, gave me a respite from the world, what more can you ask from a novel?

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest revew.



4 out of 5 butterflies

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