Review: The Counselors

The Counselors

by Jessica Goodman

Razorbill (imprint of Penguin Random House), 2022

Category: Young Adult
Reviewer: Meg Wiviott

Buy at

Goldie Eastman can’t wait to return to Camp Alpine Lake, the only place she feels safe, loved, and at home. Her senior year was disastrous, filled with love and lies, and secrets she’s kept from her best friends Ava and Imogen. But will this year’s summer be the same as those in the past, as Goldie, Ava, and Imo work as counselors, or will the secrets she’s kept ruin their friendships forever? Jessica Goodman’s young adult novel, The Counselors, brings to life the joys, comradery, and appeal of summer camp. Until, that is, a local boy is found dead on the grounds of Camp Alpine. Goldie knows this is no accident and knows she must find the truth behind the murder. What she uncovers is that the truth can be ugly—and that she’s not the only one keeping secrets.

The Counselors is a quintessential story about summer camp (or as I imagine summer camp to be, having never attended). The friendships forged during hot summer days are bigger than the petty rivalries of adolescence, and outlast years and distances apart. It is also a good mystery, filled with twists and turns and page-turning suspense. Hints are dropped through the story, so an attentive reader may be able to suss out the murder mystery before the climax.

While The Counselors is an enjoyable read, it does not meet the criteria for the Sydney Taylor Book Award. The main character, Goldie, is Jewish, and one could presume from the names that other characters are as well, but other than Goldie mentioning once that she is a Reform Jew and another reference to someone’s Bar Mitzvah, there is no Jewish content. However, it is satisfying to see Jewish representation in the genre of a murder mystery thriller.

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Meg Wiviott is the author of the YA novel in verse PAPER HEARTS, which received a 2016 Christopher Award. Her picture book, BENNO AND THE NIGHT OF BROKEN GLASS, was selected as one of SLJ’s Best Picture Books of 2010 and made CCBC’s Best Choice List. She holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts.