"Berman is at her most insightful when exploring the awkward unfurling of female adolescence... Perennials is a sharp meditation on the changing female body, and the ways in which such changes are often involuntary and unwanted." — J. Courtney Sullivan, New York Times Book Review
At what point does childhood end and adulthood begin? Mandy Berman’s evocative debut novel captures, through the lens of summer camp both the thrill and pain of growing up.
Rachel Rivkin and Fiona Larkin used to treasure their summers together as campers at Camp Marigold. Now, reunited as counselors after their first year of college, their relationship is more complicated. Rebellious Rachel, a street-smart city kid raised by a single mother, has been losing patience with her best friend’s insecurities; Fiona, the middle child of a not-so-perfect suburban family, envies Rachel’s popularity with their campers and fellow counselors. For the first time, the two friends start keeping secrets from each other. Through them, as well as from the perspectives of their fellow counselors, their campers, and their mothers, we witness the tensions of the turbulent summer build to a tragic event, which forces Rachel and Fiona to confront their pasts—and the adults they’re becoming.
A seductive blast of nostalgia, a striking portrait of adolescent longing, and a tribute to female friendship, Perennials will speak to everyone who still remembers that bittersweet moment when innocence is lost forever.
Praise for Perennials:
“Mandy Berman has remade the American summer camp narrative, ditching the usual clichés and getting in close with her characters and their various states of emotional and economic precariousness. Perennials is a sharp, crushingly observant, and empathetic debut, full of wit and tragedy, and good for all seasons.”
— Sam Lipsyte, author of The Fun Parts and The Ask
“Mandy Berman explores an old trope: the magic of summer camp, a place separate from the rest of your life where you can become a slightly different version of yourself, a place where friendships run impossibly deep and romance and sex are innocent. But what happens when that divide begins to crumble, and real life, in all its moral ambiguity, finds its way to the heart of a halcyon summer? Lucid, psychologically nuanced, and great fun to read, Perennials has taken an old subject and made it new.”
— Rufi Thorpe, author of Dear Fang, With Love and The Girls from Corona del Mar
“Snappy and irresistible, Berman’s debut novel, Perennials, takes readers back to summer camp, where her characters’ first friendships and treasons play out in sharp dialogue and playful, generous prose. Berman fearlessly renders youth and adulthood alike, in sentences you’ll want to savor.”
— Kristopher Jansma, author of Why We Came to the City
“Do you remember that youthful summer when ‘everything changed’? Mandy Berman sure does and her wonderful novel is a snapshot of that time and the group of young women who are irrevocably changed by it. Perennials manages to be warm and loving and still wallop you with moments of shock and pain. What an exciting debut.”
— Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and The Changeling
“Berman’s debut, a winning, keenly observed, and clear-eyed novel set in a summer camp, captures the age when fierce attachments forged over years begin to unravel, passionate female friendships give way to sex, and identity seems to shift with the tides.”
— Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls