I spent the last 72 hours camping out in an old cabin up in the Quebec bush. I only brought one book, which was fine since a lot of time was spent running away from dock spiders and making sure there were no food remnants lying around for animals to turn Kujo over. But I did have the chance to read Julie Klausner‘s new YA novel Art Girls Are Easy. I must have heard about it through some Jezebuzz or HelloGiggle-ing, as Klausner is a well known comic/ podcaster/writer/funny person. Though I was expecting it to be a bit more of a crossover-YA, it actually sits very comfortably in the centre of the genre. Art Girls are Easy is about Indigo Hamlisch, a 15-year-old art prodigy who is attending the prestigious Silver Springs Art Camp for Girls for her 9th year. The camp is not your average summer camp. It’s full of “art” girls: budding playwrights, bitchy ballerinas, awkward-phased stand up comics, and actress-types who all exhibit enough brilliance to have gained them entry into this state-of-the-art retreat. Cabins are named after beat poets and famous choreographers. The camp fare is something out of a gluten-free Hogwarts. The girls are beautiful and talented and have an assortment of nose and boob jobs just because they can. It’s all verging on a the biggest eye roll of the century, but Klausner remains so aware of the fact, that it ends up satirizing the whole thing. Her heroine Indigo is the fresh air in all of this as she’s a bit more alternative than the others, yet she’s still not exempt from the balancing game of her rising adultness with a relentless teenaged psychosis.
Confession time: I also went to an art camp when I was 12. I was in the “acting performance” major and we totally pretended to be trees and rocks and barn yard animals. We had pretty cabins and a mess hall that was anything but messy. And though none of us were prodigies in any sense of the word, or our parents swimming in enough money to drown in, it definitely was not your average camp experience, in fact, it was outright glampy. Art girls are totally nuts, and Klausner especially picks up on that point in our hormonal little lives where even a genius artist will go ape-shit over a hot counsellor and practically lose their mind. True to it’s young adult target, the book deals with body image, boy drama, besties, makeovers, sex, and teenaged over-thinking paranoia. Art Girls are Easy is a funny, current, intelligent and melodramatic teen read that hits the acrylic fushia target right in it’s emoticon-heart.