Six wayward Canadian teenagers are sentenced to serve time for their crimes, but before their penalty is finished, they all say their punishment is actually a reward and they don’t want it to end. Their lives have been transformed.
An implausible plot, you say?
The mismatched kids, four boys and two girls who do not know each other, are given a choice: Carry a backpack on the last section of the Camino de Santiago in Spain or serve time in Canada. Each of them grudgingly takes the walking option.
Author Kevin Craig wrote The Camino Club after walking the Camino and it is a story that will feel authentic to anyone who has experienced the famed path across Spain. Be careful, though, because reading this book could lead your feet, like mine, to the Camino.
The story is told through the alternating voices of three of the teens, who gradually open their true selves to each other. And they are increasingly honest with themselves.
Love, friendship, anxiety, grief, sexuality, and family are themes in this coming-of-age novel that will appeal to grownups. The kids, who are accompanied by two adult counselors, lash out at each other, learn the value of forgiveness, fall in love, accept hardships, and grow to value the simple things in life.
Like life on the real Camino, they bridge decades of age differences with fellow pilgrims they meet along the way. One, Bastien, 74, becomes part of their Camino family and brings richness to their lives and to this story. They learn to love him like a grandfather and a best friend, but they only learn an important truth about him during the final miles of their week and a half together.
They realize that shared adventure brings out their best and forms bonds that will last a lifetime. The Camino showers the teenagers with feelings of achievement and growth.
The next words are for author Kevin Craig:
Well done! This is a wonderful story, but I hope it is not finished. I await your sequel, a reunion walk, when the kids have had some years to reflect on the experience and where it has taken them.