*I got this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
What is it about?
Sixteen-year-old Randy Kapplehoff loves spending the summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer teens. It’s where he met his best friends. It’s where he takes to the stage in the big musical. And it’s where he fell for Hudson Aaronson-Lim – who’s only into straight-acting guys and barely knows not-at-all-straight-acting Randy even exists.
This year, though, it’s going to be different. Randy has reinvented himself as ‘Del’ – buff, masculine and on the market. Even if it means giving up show tunes, nail polish and his unicorn bedsheets, he’s determined to get Hudson to fall for him.
But as he and Hudson grow closer, Randy has to ask himself how much is he willing to change for love. And is it really love anyway, if Hudson doesn’t know who he truly is? (goodreads)
Book: Camp | Author: L. C. Rosen | Publisher: Penguin | Published: 28th May 2020 | Pages: 384 | Genre: contemporary YA | Rep: gay jewish MC, korean-american gay jewish LI, Middle Eastern gay Jew, demi lesbian, afro-Brazilian sapphic, nonbinary, black trans, aro ace (everyone in this book is queer) | TW: toxic masculinity, homophobia, internalized homophobia
What did I think?
This book is the stuff my queer dreams are made of. It was so, so good and one of those books I’d recommend to everyone. It’s wonderfully educational, with fun and charm.
So. First of all: characters! Every single character in this story is queer and I am here for it! Not only does this book show different sexualities and genders, it also shows that not everyone identifying one sexuality has to act a certain way. He shows the many facettes of sexualities, genders and people’s characters. While there are many identities shown, the focus is on the gay MC and gay love interest and the gay community especially. Randy is usually very flamboyant, likes dancing and musicals and wearing make-up and extravagant clothes. He has a crush on Hudson, who is into very masculine boys. Randy decides to change completely and become a new self to make Hudson notice him. Over the course of a year, he cuts his hair and gains some muscles.
And it works. Hudson sure does notice him and almost immediately has a crush on him. The two start hanging out more and also start really talking to each other. I really loved how the two of them developed throughout the story, both themselves and as a couple. They come from different backgrounds which has had a huge impact on how they act and see themselves and their community. They can learn from each other while also coming to terms with who they are. I just really, really loved this part of the book. It was educational, but well interwoven with the character’s stories and the plot itself.
The whole book was educational. Alongside the campers the readers can learn about queer history and different queer lifestyles. There’s just so much information and so many important topics – like toxic masculinity and internalized homophobia – in this book but it does not overwhelm. Lev Rosen really has a great way to talk about all of this putting themes throughout the story, them popping up in different places and just at the right times.
Overall, I loved this book so, so much. Camp gives so much. There is so much gay culture in there, so much queer culture in general, both negative and positive aspects. If this book was a song, it would be upbeat with usually happy, positive lyrics but a serious bridge, it would be something you could sing to at the top of your lungs and dance your heart out while still not being shallow but having a deeper meaning behind it.
This book gives the reader a lot to think about, too. Should you change yourself for someone? Can you even really change? When should we pretend? Where does acceptence start? How far are you willing to go for something?
This review will definitely not be the last thing you’ll hear from me about this book.