Disneylanders by Kate Abbott ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 12, 2013
Publisher: Orchard Hill
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Disneyland, starting high school, growing up, romance
Format read: Paperback provided by author. (Thank you!)
Summary: Casey is on her annual trip to Disneyland with her parents the summer before high school. This year at her favorite place feels a little bit different after conflicts with her best friend all year, and her nervousness about starting a new school with new people. Her trip starts to look up when she meets Bert, another Disney enthusiast on vacation with his sister and grandma.
Let’s be real. Vacationing with your family is never easy. Most of the time, it’s super fun and all. But there are little fights and annoyances here and there, right? Especially when you are a teenager.
Disneylanders by Kate Abbott does such a realistic job of capturing these precious family quirks in this YA novel, I almost felt like they were pages right out of my own journal from when I was 14. My mom telling me I’m moody when I’m just trying to drive home some kind of point and make them realize I’m not a little kid anymore. Sound familar?
I didn’t like being 14 so much. I had a lot of the same insecurities as Casey. Am I dressing right? What if I don’t make new friends? Why is everyone cooler than me? Will my parents ever stop being so overprotective? And like Casey, going to a Disney theme park gave me some kind of relief every summer. Life was put on pause and I could be in my own little bubble, thinking my own little thoughts and processing the past few months without returning to the real world for awhile.
A mishap with a little girl, a Sharpie marker, and Casey’s pants introduces her to Bert, a fellow Disney fan, who is super cute, 2 years older, and really nice. Casey and Bert hit it off and decide to spend a lot of their vacation together, exploring the parks. It’s so adorable how shy she is with him but how excited she is too. (It reminded me of the first time a boy held my hand; it was also in a theme park and you would have thought it was the biggest event in the world.) Bert is sweet and totally level-headed, dealing with a bit of family drama himself. It’s nice that they have each other as sounding boards because an unbiased opinion sometimes helps you see the light.
While some of the book might sound a little young (it is early high school), I didn’t mind it so much. Abbott creates some awesome irony with Casey spending her time in a world of fantasy and being forced to deal with some not-so plesant grown up things. I really liked that. Plus, the Disney park history references didn’t hurt too much either. For those of you who aren’t Disney geeks, don’t worry. There aren’t so many that they distract from the core of the story.
Disneylanders is a charming and well-rounded story that will have you rooting for Casey, aching for a Disney trip, and feeling all sorts of magic. I can’t recommend it enough.