Percy and Penny are Twelve year old twins who get dropped off with their younger adopted brother at their uncle’s farm when their parents face marital and legal problems. They are not happy about this and their mother tries to cheer them up by calling it “horse camp”. Both siblings have trouble adjusting, but as summer nears an end and no one comes to pick them up they begin to worry, but to their surprise they also begin to start fitting in.
One of the best things about this book is the humor. I haven’t read a book in a very long time that made me laugh out loud. The adventures the characters have and their reactions to these adventures are hilarious. The twin main characters are both strong willed and often share their opinions with anyone who will listen. I really loved that the authors do not sugar coat their personalities and behavior. Both come across as real teenagers, who don’t always agree, and often argue and are mean to each other. One of the funniest parts of this book, aside from several chicken fiascoes, are that the twins substitute the word “horse camp” for swears, showing how they really feel about their situation.
Another thing that stood out about the characters in this book, besides their sense of humor, was they were both on the verge of being unlikable. Penny especially, in the beginning of the book is bigoted and close minded due to very conservative religious beliefs. It is very hard to empathize with her when she is first introduced. Because these beliefs are really the only thing that define her, she comes across as a religious zealot stereotype. But we see her slowly change her views as she meets new characters whose lifestyles make her question her beliefs. Because of her disposition in the beginning of the book, her character is very unique and not often seen in young adult books, which was refreshing. The reader also begins to empathize with her when they see how much she’s struggling with life changes, such as her parents divorce, and her father’s abrupt new relationship.
Percy is almost a complete opposite from Penny because he doesn’t really seem to care about anything. He has not taken to religion as Penny has and often just wants to be left alone to draw. Though he doesn’t share his sister’s beliefs, he has his own glaring flaws. He is often very mean to both Penny and his younger adopted brother. While the reader can understand his anger at being essentially abandoned, when he says or does horrible things to his siblings it’s very hard to feel bad for him. He also changes throughout the story, though not as much and not as fast as Penny. Though Percy often does terrible things it also makes him seem more like a real person, with uncontrolled angry outbursts and plans of vengeance.
Though both main characters had flaws I was still very interested in their lives and what happened to them. Often their attitudes were masking their pain and feelings of betrayal. Instead of making the best of it or trying hard to empathize with others, which is happens with characters in many YA books, these characters are much more real and honest about their feelings.
A fun and absorbing read.