Series or Standalone: Standalone
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary and Mental Health
Publication Date: May 2nd 2017
Four Weeks, Five People follows five teens – Stella, Clarissa, Andrew, Ben and Mason – who are sent to Camp Ugunduzi, a therapeutic wilderness program that helps adolescents with mental illnesses.
For the most part, I enjoyed the characters and was entertained by them. Each character had a very strong personality and voice to accompany this. They were written extremely well and I would only ever forget whose perspective I was in when I returned to this book mid-chapter. (Which I think is largely a positive aspect.) Although, towards the end of the book I found myself skimming the text at times because the narrative felt a little melodramatic.
The camaraderie between the characters was equally, if not more entertaining. Each character had a very unique voice and gelled well together. I think this is really important, with so many points of views; there was this great sense of interconnectedness between them.
This is an incredibly character driven book. I’m also a character driven reader, and therefore this book should’ve been a great match. Unfortunately there is very little happening with regards to the plot. And I think this is essential even for character driven readers like myself!
The drama between the characters is essentially the extent of the plot, which became kind of tiresome. This book needed more to draw me in. It wasn’t ever exciting or thrilling. Consequently this book never kept me wondering what would happen next.
Lastly, some reviewers are criticizing the lack of recovery that occurs. Personally, I don’t think it’s wholly realistic to expect teenagers to have made such a recovery when their mental illness has spanned longer than the period the book takes place in. However I can see where this criticism comes from.
This is because I felt as though the characters don’t change much from where they began. Seeing as this is a self-contained story, we should have seen some changes. For example, we are told Stella has learnt to care more. Yet we are shown this at the beginning of the story. Therefore there is no real before or after comparison of her behavior.
Ultimately I enjoyed this book, mostly because I’m glad that a book with a great deal of diverse characters can coexist. I can’t attest to the representation of all mental illnesses here, so I would advise seeking other reviews that can do that. Jennifer Yu is definitely an author I plan to keep and eye on, and can only see her stories improving from here on out!