Four camp friends time travel in YA novel ‘Proof of Forever’

proofofforeverbookcoverFour girls who were once inseparable at Camp Okahatchee show up at a camp reunion barely speaking to each other when a photo-booth turns into a time machine in the new YA novel Proof of Forever.

The girls are only transported back a couple years, but the short timespan might as well be a decade in the lives of teenage girls – so much can happen in even one school year in terms of friendships, haircuts, fashion and boys. The girls named Joy, Tali, Luce and Zoe are very different from each other – Joy is eclectic in her tastes but mysterious, Luce is the buttoned-up brain whose mother is the camp’s director, Tali the spoiled popular girl and Zoe the countercultural indie-music lover one of the bunch.

Once they figure out that they aren’t dreaming and are in fact really time traveling, the girls figure if they can make the photo they were trying to recreate happen exactly how it happened before they will be transported back to the present. That task is easier said than done though as the girls are different people with different perspectives on life now despite being transported back into the bodies of their younger selves.

Doing things exactly as they did them before quickly goes out the window as each of the friends makes new and exciting discoveries of people and experiences they had completely missed out on before.

While I’m clearly not the intended audience for this book, I do enjoy a good YA book from time to time (I also just recently finished reading Mosquitoland and I’m a big fan of Matthew Quick’s YA books) and Lexa Hillyer‘s debut novel doesn’t disappoint. Weaving storylines of the four characters – their distinct personalities make it easier to follow along – Hillyer captures a female perspective of life at summer camp that so often is missing from books and popular culture.

Her four characters are far from model campers – all four do things that should get them kicked out of camp and talk in ways that resemble HBO more than network television – but I found the view of summer camp through the eyes of female protagonists particularly refreshing since my own experience and what’s so often recounted in popular culture is so testosterone driven.

I particularly like the description of the boys’ cabin and its “certain mystique, defined by strange foot and body odors as well as the overall sense of complete chaos that rules within the boys’ walls.” That’s the experience I lived and often reminisce about, but that’s quite different than the emotional roller coaster the four main characters of the book are on as they navigate complex issues being relived at camp in the past and happening in the very real here and now of the present from which the photobooth transported them.

Many of those things are better left to discover for yourself in this The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Back to the Future at summer camp page turner.

Note: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. 

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Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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