Hummingbird Creek is an upmarket retreat for teenagers with psychological problems. Mae has grown up there with her parents, who own and run the facility. The strict rules and regulations are normal for Mae and the other children of staff; they are just something they have always lived with. For the young people who are sent there for help, it is just another medical facility but with the kind of resources that you would find at a truly 6 star hotel resort. However for the children of the staff there are rules that make life very restricted and they have to endure the sort of medical monitoring that you would only expect for people who are seriously ill. The teenagers find that even their education is being limited and their college choice is being decided for them. However they are now growing up and when Mae breaks the rules (she is caught smoking with a friend) she is led to question the very harsh results of this behaviour.
The description of life in Hummingbird Creek gives you a shiver down the back and has eerie similarities to some of the small sects that developed in the USA in the last 50 years. As you read this story you begin to feel that there is something sinister behind all this and the author gradually ratchets up the tension until she reaches her final crescendo. The characterisation is well done and we really feel for the two central teenagers who find their whole world seems to have been built on very insecure foundations. For Mae this is even more of an issue as there are several aspects of her life which are thrown into question (I am trying to avoid a ‘spoiler’ here). I found this a very gripping read with lots of tension between the adults and the young people. It was also interesting to note the different reactions of the young people to their environment; some appeared to accept the whole set-up, whilst others began to question. You can see how this could be translated into the wider picture of society, where a dictator can ‘brainwash’ people into believing their way is right and only a few people seem to question what is happening.