Review: Twelfth

Theater sleep-away camp, murder mystery, and the power of friendship combine in this sweet story from Janet Key.

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About the Book:

Better Nate Than Ever  meets The Parker Inheritance in this heartwarming mystery about finding your people and accepting others as they are.

Twelve-year-old Maren is sure theater camp isn’t for her. Theater camp is for loud, confident, artsy people: people like her older sister, Hadley—the last person Maren wants to think about—and her cinema-obsessed, nonbinary bunkmate, Theo. But when a prank goes wrong, Maren gets drawn into the hunt for a diamond ring that, legend has it, is linked to the camp’s namesake, Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, a promising director in Blacklist Era Hollywood.
When Maren connects the clues to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, she and her new friends are off searching through lighting booths, orchestra pits and costume storages, discovering the trail and dodging camp counselors. But they’re not the only ones searching for the ring, and with the growing threat of camp closing forever, they’re almost out of time. 

Maren’s sister is struggling with depression after her first year of college. Maren feels like a burden to everyone, but that doesn’t mean she really wants to spend the summer at her sister’s favorite summer camp. But, when she’s dropped off, she is dropped into a mystery maybe only she can solve – is there a ghost at camp? Is there someone out there trying to find a mysterious treasure that might save the camp from financial ruin?

As a theater kid myself, I thought this was a fun summer mystery that will keep kids entertained but won’t scare them too much. Listed as middle grade, I would definitely say it’s for older middle school kids. It deals a great deal with identity, gender fluidity, and finding who you are. I thought the main story of Maren, Theo, Graham and their goofy friendship and hunt for the treasure were great fun. Incorporating Charlie’s story provided a solid background for the camp, the treasure, and the real jewel of the story – finding and embracing who you really are.

About the Author:

When Janet Key was twelve, she sang and danced onstage in the background of musicals, stayed up too late reading Shakespeare, and had a closet full of themed, handsewn vests.

This is her first novel. 

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