Russel Middlebrook has officially been "out" for some time, and while it is great he is out it really is suffocating him in a way. His solution: to be...moreRussel Middlebrook has officially been "out" for some time, and while it is great he is out it really is suffocating him in a way. His solution: to become a camp counselor and tell no one he is gay. The moment he meets the kids at camp he starts to wonder if becoming a counselor was a good idea - they are unruly! How can Russel make sure he gets these kids to respect and like him at the same time? By creating The Order of the Poison Oak. And even though Russel's hope for the summer is some freedom from his 'gay' role back home, he finds an attractive fellow counselor... who is sending him mixed signals.
I thought this book was much better than the first installment, The Geography Club. Maybe this is the camp setting. Camp settings offer a completely different world where events and friends are made that wouldn't happen anywhere else. Brent Hartinger gives us Russel's point of view, with much commentary from him directly - I was surprised at how much I liked this! I found Russel to be more witty, keen, emotional through this technique than I did in The Geography Club.
I also really enjoyed how Brent Hartinger added another 'issue' that is hardly ever discussed.... Russel's campers are just 'normal' campers, they are burn victims. I felt that Russel's real character came out - while he fumbles a bit in the beginning he really grows as a human being in working with these kids.
Of course Russel's sexuality is still part of the story. Web is a fellow counselor who Russel has eyes for from day one. However, Russel is getting mixed signals from him, and he is even sending Min (Russel's bi-sexual best friend) mixed signals as well. But Russel is not the only love story in this book - some of the minor characters get to have their opportunity in 'love'.
Overall, this was a wonderful read. I loved how it flowed with ease, and as I've already stated, I loved loved loved how Hartinger created a connection between Russel and the readers through his commentaries. Furthermore, I was thoroughly impressed by Hartinger's genius to include other 'issues' while maintaining a connection to GLBT. (less)
Where do I begin with another amazing book by the ever-so talented Ellen Hopkins... Perfect is a novel that everyone must read, not just teens. It's m...moreWhere do I begin with another amazing book by the ever-so talented Ellen Hopkins... Perfect is a novel that everyone must read, not just teens. It's message transcends age, gender, sexuality, race and time. We all want to be perfect, and for each and everyone one of us defining what is 'perfect' is different. Ellen Hopkins explores the idea of 'perfection' through characters that struggle with things that many of us have and still do: being the prettiest, the best at sports, the best academically, and to be just perfect for ourselves by being who we are.
One of my favorite characters is Cara, Connor's sister (from Impulse). Not only is she under thumb of her parents' constant pressure to be the best academically and at everything else, she is left behind while Connor works on his own issues (must read Impulse to find out more about this). And if that wasn't enough she is finding something about herself she never knew... she could be be a lesbian. Can I just say this girl has a strength of wills like no other!
Such a simple question that carries so much meaning and weight. Ellen Hopkins has created a reality in verse perfectly (no pun intended), a reality that many of use tend to ignore or pretend doesn't exist. Ellen Hopkins continues to grab the attention and respect of all her readers through her brute honesty and artistic craft. Without her our Literary World would be less than it is. She gives us hope to find the truth in ourselves, that we are all perfect, just the way we are, in Perfect.(less)