Set at a summer sleep-away camp, this debut novel explores the complexities of female friendship over time from adolescence through early adulthood. Perennials offers readers a unique look at the bliss and beauty of girlhood, as well as the grief of growing up and remembering when and where you lost your innocence.
“This highly anticipated coming-of-age novel . . . delivers the perfect sunny trifecta: summer camp drama, growing pains, and the enduring power of female friendships.”—Redbook
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
“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. . . . [She] skillfully captures the details and rituals of camp.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, The New York Times Book Review
“Berman’s command of prose is astounding. The more you read, the more difficult it is to believe that this is a debut novel. . . . Charged with hope, longing, an unexpected sensuality, and a bruised tenderness, Perennials is a book you should most definitely put near the top of your reading list.”—Pop Dust
“Snappy and irresistible, Perennials takes readers back to summer camp, where her characters’ first friendships and treasons play out in sharp dialogue and playful, generous prose.”—Kristopher Jansma, author of Why We Came to the City
About the Author
Mandy Berman is a writer from Nyack, New York. Perennials is her debut novel. She holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She lives and writes in Brooklyn.
“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. . . . [She] skillfully captures the details and rituals of camp. It’s a place where freedom from the roles young people play at home lets them become who they are. And where, for those who return year after year, a girl can retrace her steps, see all the parts of herself past and present, with the occasional glimpse into the future.”—J. Courtney Sullivan, The New York Times Book Review
“This highly anticipated coming-of-age novel from Mandy Berman delivers the perfect sunny trifecta: summer camp drama, growing pains, and the enduring power of female friendships.”—Redbook
“[Mandy] Berman entices readers with this coming-of-age-tale of two girls. . . . This story of facing life’s difficulties is most memorable because of Berman’s excellently crafted, multifaceted characters.”—Publishers Weekly
“Stormy emotional weather and unforeseen events rock a summer camp in the Berkshires. . . . Berman’s debut recalls the beloved teen and adult novels of Judy Blume, both in topic and prose style: simple, powerful, unafraid to confront serious issues.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Mandy] Berman’s command of prose is astounding. The more you read, the more difficult it is to believe that this is a debut novel. . . . Clearly borne of real-world camp experience . . . Charged with hope, longing, an unexpected sensuality, and a bruised tenderness, Perennials is a book you should most definitely put near the top of your reading list.”—Pop Dust
“Perennials centers on two girls who met as campers but are reunited as camp counselors once they’re in college. As the summer progresses, they begin to grow apart—keeping secrets from one another, avoiding conversations about things they need to talk about—all culminating in one fateful event that makes them put everything on the table.”—PopSugar
“If coming-of-age tales always get you, you won’t be able to put this one down—it involves a female friendship between two campers who become counselors at Camp Marigold who must confront their past to move forward as adults.”—The Knot
“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, Mandy 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. At the right time she can also be funny as hell. What an exciting debut.”—Victor LaValle, author of Big Machine and The Changeling
“Berman is a daring and fearless explorer of the complicated lives of young women. Her 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. Most poignantly, Berman reminds us of the excitement, trepidation, and grief that comes with the growing awareness that we are starting to become who we will be for the rest of our lives.”—Elissa Schappell, author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls
“In Perennials, Mandy Berman explores the inner worlds of girls attending a summer camp together—a place where the rules don’t always apply. Weathering love affairs, escaping crumbling friendships, and even surviving the loss of one of their own, this cohort of girls grows into women in the span of one short summer—and you’ll be glad for the chance to eavesdrop every step of the way.”—Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of June and Bittersweet