All year Freddie Holtzman has been waiting to return to Camp Mason for the science fair that pits gifted kids—affectionately known as “eggheads”—against each other for a scholarship prize of $5,000. All year he has been waiting to hang out with old friends, to solve the mystery of the camp ghost, and most importantly, to reconnect with the girl he kissed last summer on a dare—Ginny Haig, the beautiful egghead girl of his dreams. But when science projects start to go missing and no one has a perfect alibi, things start to get a lot more complicated…
Independent novels always feel like a bit of a gamble for me. Sometimes I love ‘em and sometimes I hate ‘em, but usually I’m just disappointed—for the reason that they always seem to be missing the thing that would make them truly good.
True to form, this book gave me the feeling of perpetually being on the edge of something great, but never quite getting there. From Billy and his friends’ giggly interactions with girls, to the conveniently lax supervision of the campers, even the funny moments felt forced.
That said, it’s still one of the best independently published YA novels I’ve read in awhile, because clearly the author genuinely cares about his story and how he’s telling it. The characters may not be the most realistic (actually, they felt more like 13-year-olds than high-school juniors), but you do care about them and the scholarship competition. The lack of a cloying, happy ending of love and acceptance all around was also nice, even if the ending on the whole was unsatisfying for me.
So if you’re looking for fun, puppy love and a little bit of mystery, “The Ghost, the Eggheads and Babe Ruth’s Piano” by Larry Sweitzer could be for you. Just don’t expect too much out of it.