Review of Twelfth

Twelfth Twelfth
by Janet Key
Intermediate, Middle School    Little, Brown    368 pp.   g
5/22    978-0-316-66931-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-66934-4    $9.99

Theater camp is not how introverted twelve-year-old Maren Sands had planned to spend her summer. Nevertheless, she finds herself following in her sister Hadley’s path at Camp Goodman. Maren generally avoids the stage, but she gains attention on the first day by finding the camp director’s missing phone. This leads to her involvement in a mystery that dates back to the camp’s 1960s founding. Maren follows clues, all connected to Twelfth Night, which seem to be leading her to a diamond ring allegedly hidden at the camp in its early days. Along the way, she processes feelings about Hadley’s diagnosed depression and her parents’ preoccupation with it. Interwoven are episodes from the life of Charlotte “Charlie” Goodman, sister of the camp’s founder, who grew up in Hollywood and (supposedly) died while directing her first film. Key does a good job of bringing in such topics as the 1940s Hearings Against Accused Communists in Hollywood and related “Lavender Scare” without letting history overwhelm the storytelling (back matter provides more detail); and of allowing the book’s themes of gender and sexuality to develop organically. (Having the closing day of camp coincide with the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage is a nice touch.) The book’s primary villains, a classic mean girl and a menacing corporate executive, are more types than characters, but many others, particularly Maren; her nonbinary bunkmate, Theo; and her movement instructor, Eartha, are more satisfyingly developed.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.