Title: Lessons from the gypsy camp
Author: Elizabeth Appell
Genre: Coming of age
Publisher: Scribes Valley Publishing Co.
My Source: the author (thank you!!)
My score on Goodreads: 5 (deserved) stars
Young Lolly Candolin journeys into a forbidden gypsy camp, befriends many lively outcasts, and unwittingly becomes entangled in murder. Knowing who the true killer is, Lolly struggles with the decision to either speak up, thus setting an innocent man free and devastating her abusive lawyer father hell-bent on destroying the gypsies, or remain quiet and allow a terrible injustice.
Wow! I truly loved this book! Though I asume it's written for younger people, I enjoyed it from the first to the last page and I always wondered what would happen next in the life of our main character, Lolly Candoline. I believe this is a book that should be translated into many languages. It's a book my younger self would have appreciated too, I'm sure of that (and I was picky when it came to books ;) ).
Before I say something about the story, I want to mention the beautiful cover! At first I saw nothing special in it, but after reading the book, I noticed some hidden messages (or I believe I did so :p ). We see a young girl stooping (don't know if this is the right verb, but I don't know another one...). It seems she's not able to stand up straight because she's suffering under the tyranny of her father. Her father is presented as a dark shadow, like he's a shadow always hanging over Lolly's life. In the other corner of this cover we see the cougar Lolly meets in the gypsy camp. This cougar is the best pronounced picture of the three items on the cover. Maybe we can interpret this as a symbol for the strong character Lolly always shows.
That being said, I'd like to tell something about the story. It's just wonderful! "Lessons from the gypsy camp" tells us about a part of Lolly Candolines childhood. She's a young girl with everything she can possibly want in life. But her life only seems to be carefree. What most people don't know when they see her is that her mother is depressed all the time, her father is a tyrant who drinks every night untill he's completely wasted and Loly isn't accepted at school by the other girls. On top of that Lolly discovered some true friends in a gypsy camp, Cougarville, where she isn't allowed to go. Nevertheless she visits her friends often and helps them where she can (because people in the city want the gypsies to go and Lolly's father is one of those people). In defending the gypsies, Lolly denies her fater... or he believes so. This doesn't benefit their already poor relationship and problems seem to get bigger for Lolly every day. The rule her father always goes by, is that there are always consequences for everything you do in life...
When reading this book, it seems like you are Lolly. You feel with her, you go with her on her trips to the gypsy camp, you could even cry when she finds her dead cat and burries him together with her gypsy friend, Tick. You start to hate Lolly's father, Regan Candoline, with her. At the same time you feel some compassion for this lost man, just like Lolly does. This makes you understand the confussion she feels all the time.
This book tells us more about an average family with (more than) average problems. It's a story with some lessons for younger readers and on top of that it's just an enjoyable story I recommend to everyone.