Title: The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland
Author: Rebekah Crane
Published in: 2016
Genres: contemporary fiction, realistic fiction, romance, mental health/mental illness
“According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.
Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.
But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.”
– from Goodreads
Zander starts off being upset about having to go to Camp Padua. She doesn’t think anything is wrong. Zander believes that nowhere is a real place and she’s fine staying there. Once she gets to the camp, she’s sure everyone there is crazy while she isn’t. But as she spends more time there, she starts to confront her past and realize that everyone there has their story and is broken in their own ways. She falls in love with Grover. She learns that Cassie’s never had anyone really care for her and tries her best to show that that Cassie’s wrong: that someone does care. This isn’t made easy since Cassie is very direct and not afraid to say what she thinks and often selfish. With these friendships, she enjoys camp and by the end, is willing to return next year.
The exact reason why Zander was signed up for Camp Padua was gradually revealed throughout the novel. It was not revealed at the very beginning and started off by Zander mentioning she had a sister and that her sister died. Eventually she reveals that her father signed her up after she almost drowned at a swim meet sometime after her sister died.
Zander was a kind, caring, and relatable character. She put up with a lot from other people at camp, especially Cassie. Early on in the summer, Zander realized that Cassie never had anyone care for her and that Cassie was well aware of that and Zander wanted to prove her wrong by showing her that someone, she, cared. She helped her sneak out of the cabin at night, helped her learn how to swim, and was just there for her. Even after Cassie attempted suicide, she stayed at the hospital and was there. When Zander realized Cassie was going to end up in a group home and that that would kill her (not literally), she managed to get her mother to help her. She put up with Cassie and cared for her, even though Cassie was selfish the majority of the time. Cassie complained frequently, said mean things to her, and never acted grateful for all Zander did for her. Although, a few times, especially toward the very end, Cassie was shown to care about Zander too. One night when they got locked out of the cabin after sneaking out, Cassie helped Zander to sneak back in, so only she would be caught.
Zander was also shown to care very much about Grover. She knew about his schizophrenic father and the very real possibility that he could become schizophrenic too someday and wished she could do something, anything to make sure that didn’t happen. She put up with a lot from Alex, never knowing if he was telling the truth because of his compulsive lying.
Although she was a good friend, often, I felt it was more avoidance of her own problems than genuine kindness. She lets herself get walked all over and doesn’t stand up for herself. She tolerances abuse from Cassie and never does anything about it until towards the end.
Zander’s character develops very much throughout the novel. She starts off being unhappy, upset with her parents, and kind of depressed. She wants nothing to do with anyone there and wished she could have stayed in “nowhere.” She doesn’t want to confront or talk about her problems and keeps everything to herself. When asked, she said her reason for being there was because her parents signed her up. As she spends more time there and meets and spends time with Grover, Cassie, and Alex, she begins to appreciate being there. She forms friendships with these people and cares about them. She opens up about her past and talks about what happened and her real reason for being there. She realizes she wants to live again. She learns to stand up for herself. She also realizes that everyone there is broken, each in their own ways and there’s more to them than what she initially thought.
Camp Padua allowed the campers a lot of freedom. They said that the campers were old enough to make their own decisions and offered a variety of activities that the campers could choose to participate in throughout the day. The only activity that was required was their cabin’s group therapy, or “share-apy”, sessions by the campfire at night. Also if the campers were taking medication, they were required to continued taking it at camp. I thought it was nice that the camp realized that teens were old enough to make their own decisions with how they spent their time. Sometimes, though, I felt that they allowed too much freedom considering everyone there was struggling with some kind of mental or emotional problem. The camp didn’t fully check the camper’s bags at the beginning of camp, which allowed Cassie to easily sneak diet pills into camp and other campers could’ve done similar things, though it wasn’t mentioned. There were no requirements for what they had to eat or even have on their trays. They didn’t watch those with eating problems, such as anorexia, closely to make sure they ate something or even encouraged those campers to eat something. And for a camp especially for teens with mental/emotional problems, I was surprised that more wasn’t done to prevent suicide attempts.
Despite that, I loved reading The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. I thought it was a great book about friendship, romance, and mental illness. There were so many quotes throughout about life and people that were meaningful, insightful, and just so true.
Rating: 5/5 Stars