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How to Be Remy Cameron

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Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He's the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

340 pages

First published September 10, 2019

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About the author

Julian Winters

17 books881 followers
Julian Winters is the author of the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Award-winning Running With Lions; the Junior Library Guild Selections How to Be Remy Cameron and The Summer of Everything; and the forthcoming Right Where I Left You. A self-proclaimed comic book geek, Julian currently lives outside of Atlanta, where he can be found reading or watching the only two sports he can follow—volleyball and soccer..

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 330 reviews
Profile Image for Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd).
332 reviews7,309 followers
September 25, 2019
Absolutely fantastic. Longer review to come later.

Update on 9/25/19:

How to Be Remy Cameron is a delightful and insightful book about identity and romance and that push you often get when you're in your late teens to figure out the rest of your life right that second. Julian's first book Running With Lions was a delightful, if simplistic, book with an enemies-to-lovers m/m romance that also explored sports and male friendship without toxic masculinity. This sophomore novel truly shows how much Julian has already grown as an author.

The voice is remarkable and earnest, and rings so true as a kid just trying to figure out who he is while also clearly crushing on a guy. There were so many moments where the writing took me off guard with its insightfulness and just with the lovely descriptions. Every single character is fascinating and fully captured, creating this tapestry of diverse teens of today that made my heart glow just a little bit.

Remy, in particular, is an awkward kid. He's gay, he's black, he's adopted, he has no idea how to describe himself beyond these labels that he worries might define him. He's also a passionate writer, a music lover, a good friend, and a great older brother.

This is a contemporary that manages, somehow, to fully balance so many aspects of Remy's journey. His crush on a guy is interspersed perfectly, the sort of underlying anxiety about his upcoming essay due date pops up every time you almost forget about it, the balance of different friendships is excellent, and even Remy's family is fully realized and characterized, leaving space for his younger sister and both of his parents to be their own people. And that still isn't everything that this book manages to do.

It's rare to see an author grow so incredibly much from one book to the next, but with the leaps and bounds of complexity that this added to Julian's previous work I cannot wait to see what he writes next.
Profile Image for Toni.
515 reviews
September 27, 2019
A heartfelt, emotional book on authenticity, expectations, and courage to be yourself.

The protagonist, 17-year-old Remy Cameron, is in his junior year of high school. He would like to go to Emory College, so that he can be closer to his family -his wonderful, supportive parents and his seven year old sister Willow. Remy might look different from his parents and Willow, but he is very much a part of his family. He is also lots of other things: honest and brave (he came out at 14 and is the President of Maplewood school Gay Straight Alliance Club), confident and popular. When his AP Lit teacher, who he really looks up to, sets an essay on the topic of Identity, Remy is torn. He would like to do his best to write a great essay, but he is afraid he might fail, because he doesn't really know what he is.

We have no control over what labels others give us, but we can define who we are by the ones we choose to give ourselves.

This is not a plot-driven book, it is very introspective, despite its light and upbeat tone. The main issue is of course that of labels (you can call them statuses we assign ourselves or get assigned by other people). You can of course see yourself as a family member- Remy's is the firstborn of his family, which comes with privileges and responsibilities. His Dad also chose a University closer to his home, so that he could help his younger brother. Remy is a doting brother. He adores Willow- how can you not? her fashion choices are beyond charming. He also thinks a lot about his parents' marriage, and is probably subconsciously trying to work out a model for his future relationships. Remy's family understand and support him. I loved the scene when he accidentally meets his ex and his mom senses Remy's feelings straightaway and difuses the situation. The fact that he is adopted means he has a whole new set of questions to ask himself.
Being a friend (best friend, good friend, loyal friend, absent friend)or a student of a particular school is also a label of a kind. Remy's friends are a very diverse group. I must admit I thought that perhaps there were too many secondary characters, but then again, we meet so many people in our lives, some of which are going to stay on the periphery, helping us to define our core group of support.
Does being black define him? Remy doesn't know anything about his biological parents- not that it has been a problem so far, although we see in the book that he is very much aware of what it means to be one out of the five black students in his school. When Remy meets his biological half-sister, some of his questions get answered. She also tells him that although he needs to know his history, the struggles and the victories, these things do not define who he is. They are just a part of him.

Although Remy's sexuality is a big part of him, it isn't all. When the school counselor keeps suggesting universities with a strong LGBTQIA presence, Remy knows she isn't even trying to see him as a whole, but only as somebody who can be pigeonholed and fast-tracked to success, defined by other people.

Mrs Scott sees me as a gay, black teen she can guide to success... My world is filled with identities overshadowing who I am. Who I think I am.

When we meet Remy, he is already pretty much over the break up of his first serious relationship. As we all know, being in or out of a relationship can also be a powerful label/ status. Some students at his school will only see or recognise him as an ex-boyfriend of another popular student. I really liked the slow-burn romance in this book, and the way the author discusses the importance of consent in a subtle way. It isn't just in Ian's asking 'Can I hold your hand?'- yes, you should be aware that not everybody is comfortable with being touched, and not everybody is comfortable with sharing personal space, to say nothing of taking a relationship to a new level. It is also in Remy's sensitivity towards a friend who might or might not want to join GSA club. He is very careful not to impose his help or support, or make assumptions about people needing them.

I found Remy's reflections on his coming out very perceptive:
The thing is, you always have to come out. Every day. To new people, to people you have known forever, to people who keep trying to ignore it.

This is it. You reveal yourself, who you think you are, to people around you. Every day. To people who love and know and support you. To new people. With some of them, it is going to be easy, with others - awkward. Yet another group of people will not accept you or care or even acknowledge that you exist and are a unique human being. You will always remain invisible or pigeonholed to them. We also change as we go through our lives and some of the facets of our identity, personality and experience become more prominent, while others fade away or become a distant history. We reveal ourselves to people around us, this is our right and our privilege to be what we think we are, not what somebody else expects us to be.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Duet Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,514 reviews29.5k followers
January 2, 2020
4.5 stars.

Why didn’t books like How to Be Remy Cameron exist when I was a teenager?

“We have no control over what labels others give us, but we can define who we are by the ones we choose to give ourselves.”

Remy Cameron is a pretty likable guy. He’s a good son (even when his parents get embarrassing), he loves being a big brother, he’s a great friend, and most people admire his courage for coming out at 14.

Remy is a lot of things—he’s a teenager, he’s adopted (he’s African American while his adoptive parents are white), he’s gay and the president of his school's gay-straight alliance—but isn’t he more than just a bunch of characteristics? Yet when he gets an assignment from a teacher he believes is a crucial part of getting into his dream college next year, it throws him for a loop: he has to write about who he is and who he wants to be.

Why is answering that question so hard? Why can’t he see himself as more than the visible things others see him as? His inability to answer the question of who he is starts to affect everything—his schoolwork, his friendships, and could threaten his future. And when he becomes infatuated with a returning classmate struggling with his own identity, and meets someone who might know how he’s feeling, he doesn’t know how to process everything.

I really enjoyed this heartfelt, poignant, thought-provoking book. It’s so difficult to figure out who you are, particularly in high school, and Remy’s struggles both felt familiar and unique.

I’ve said many times before I wish that books like this existed when I was younger because it would have given me hope when I needed it most, hope that I would’ve found acceptance and happiness being true to myself. But I’m so glad these books exist today, because while life isn’t quite perfect, it’s certainly a more accepting world in many places, and you can more often live the life you want.

It's ironic that Becky Albertalli, author of Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda , blurbed this book, because How to Be Remy Cameron reminded me a little of that one, although I felt it had a little more emotional heft. But both are such great books for today's youth to read.

Julian Winters did a really great job creating characters I cared about who were more than typical high school stereotypes—in fact, he turned many of those on their head. This really was so sweet and it made me smile.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

You can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
Profile Image for Emma.
931 reviews887 followers
September 10, 2019
The ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

3.25 Stars

Full review here

This book is an introspective journey that Remy, the main character, embarks on. He's trying to figure out who he really is and what the labels, that have been assigned to him throughout all his life, truly mean. I think it's an important read if the question "who am I" has ever crossed your mind, this book definitely puts things into perspective and makes you think, that's for sure.
I would have liked to see more things happening also outside of Remy's journey of self-discovery, but this is only my personal preference.

Trigger warnings (as seen at the end of the book): discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters' death, and alcoholism, as well as depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
596 reviews1,842 followers
June 4, 2021
ARC provided by the publisher.

rep: Black gay mc, Korean American gay li

So many good concepts went into this book. It’s a patchwork of beautiful ideas, a warm & cozy blanket. It’s also made of wool, though, so I can’t touch it for too long.

Things I absolutely loved include: supportive parents who joke around with their kids and talk them through difficult situations; a gay character whose arc didn’t revolve around coming out; a whole pleiad of gay characters, actually, more or less secondary, but never stereotypical; that trope I adore and want to see more of where a person doesn’t forgive their parent just because of the (imagined) blood-tie, and more.

Like I said, all the ideas that this book is build of, are amazing. It’s full of positive energy, of love for the world & for people in it, of joy. It wants to share that joy with you, as you read on.

It’s just that while I can appreciate all that, I’m not the right kind of person to appreciate the writing itself, I’m afraid. I found it dry and a little bit boring at times, and cringy when it comes to dialogues. And let’s not even mention all those Harry Potter references… (I counted nine and I’m not sure if I didn’t miss a few.)

There were also those two instances of talking about homosexuality as if it’s all about a person’s sex life and the romantic attraction doesn’t play any role in it. I mean, come on! You’re gay even if you don’t have a sex life at all. Let’s not bring the split attraction model into books for teens (or any books, period).

In the end, How to Be Remy Cameron is a pretty cool book tackling a bunch of important issues in a respectful way. I just wish I could like the style of its prose more.
June 28, 2019
3.5 stars


julian winters, becky albertalli, and adam silvera are all battling to see who can reference harry potter the most in a single book and we're just letting them

rtc

content warnings (taken word-for-word from the back of the book): discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters' death, and alcoholism & depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism
Profile Image for nat.
71 reviews269 followers
March 14, 2021
You'd think that me, a queer black teen living in Georgia would come to love a book about a queer black teen living in Georgia by a queer black person living in Georgia. Unfortunately, that was not the case. What are the odds.

How to Be Remy Cameron was just a really dry book, to the extent I couldn't remember its title as I was writing the draft for this. Along with what I mentioned at this start of this review, it's about a boy who I guess you would say, is at the height of the teenage struggle. He's dealing with the fact he is somebody who is black with adopted white parents, college applications, relationships, rekindling with family members, and so much more.

These are all such important topics which the book did tackle well—not many authors are able to handle so many plotlines without it being a messy, half-assed jumble of words binded together in pages. The problem for me was that I never really got anything from it. Yeah, I acknowledged everything and even related with some of the struggles Remy went through, but they never resonated with me. It was like something you hear about or watch and nod and speculate about for a few seconds, but then promptly forget about right after.

When I try to remember something positive I liked about this book my mind comes up blank. Given the identities I shared with the main character and the topics this book handled, it had so much potential for me to adore it. But, everything about it just fell flat. The lack of closure with pretty much every plot point, the underdeveloped romance, how fucking bland all the characters were, along with countless other things.

I still have hope for Winters’ works. Despite how much I didn’t enjoy How to Be Remy Cameron I’ll be reading his other novels, because I always love reading books featuring QPOC. I definitely won’t be rereading this one any time soon though.


rep: black gay main character (ownvoices) w/ Korean-American gay LI, various LGBTQ / POC side characters
content warnings: discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters’ death, and alcoholism, as well as depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism (taken from the book)

I received an e-ARC of this book from Duet, an Interlude Press imprint, via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for kav (xreadingsolacex).
177 reviews344 followers
July 20, 2020
"And don't let others take pride in who you are - your race, sexuality, whatever - away from you. They didn't give it to you; they have no right to snatch it away."


Once again, I need Julian Winters to meet in the parking lot because he keeps! playing! with my emotions!!!

How to Be Remy Cameron is Winters' brilliant sophomore novel, following Remy Cameron, a junior in high school who feels he knows himself until his English teacher gives him an essay assignment that makes him question who he is. Remy has been given tons of labels since he was a child - Black, gay, adopted, best friend, older brother - but none of these get to the core of his identity, so Remy then goes on an emotional journey to help him answer the question of 'who am I?

Like Winters' debut, Running With Lions, Remy's story is the perfect blend of emotional, powerful, and heart-warming. With a diverse and incredible cast of characters, an adorable romance, and a beautiful journey, Winters impresses me again with his talent.

First up, I want to talk about the cast of characters.

Remy's friends and family are a huge part of his life, and I LOVED how present they were and how well-constructed the supporting cast.

Remy has a relatively large group of friends, but he has his core group that make many appearances in the novel, and they're the ones who really give him the advice he needs to write that essay. I particularly loved Lucy and Brooks' characters, but all of Remy's friends brought a smile to my face. I loved the mix of their humor/light-hearted conversations with their strong emotional bond. The friendships in this novel are so beautiful; Remy has a different relationship with everyone in his friend group, and all of their relationships are well-constructed and heartwarming to read.

And then, there's Remy's family. Again, I just loved how Winters handled the arc of Remy being adopted and how that played into his overall journey in the novel. But what I loved more was the bond between Remy and his family. I legitimately came close to crying multiple times while seeing Remy's relationship with his family, as it was just so purely supportive and loving. I adored Remy's mom and dad so much, but his little sister Willow brought the biggest smile to my face whenever she was on the page, and there was just something so lovely about the pure love this family shares for each other.

And while talking about relationships, I have to talk about the ADORABLE romance between Remy and the love interest (who is of Korean-Mexican descent). I firmly believe that both Remy and his love interest are baby, and they are the purest and most useless gays to ever exist. The chemistry between the two was so existent; I was actually giddy at times while they were together. While this novel does have many emotional points, this romance was, most of the time, a light-hearted and wonderful break in between Remy's identity crisis.

And now, we need to talk about Remy.

How to Be Remy Cameron is 100%, without a doubt a character-driven novel. This novel is the epitome of quiet YA, the story is so, so human.

So, Remy's character is really the driving point of this novel. And I'm so glad that it was.

Remy is a brilliant story-teller. He is such a pure and kind soul, and he is truly a likeable character. I couldn't help but root for him throughout this novel.

His character arc is one that is really dedicated to the idea of 'finding yourself.' This novel really seeks to analyze and answer the question of 'who am I?'

Remy was the perfect character to employ that arc, and his journey contained powerful messages, beautiful emotions, and a heartwarming conclusion.

How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters is a book that I cannot rave about enough, and it is a must-read for teen readers.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my opinion.

content warnings: brief racism scene (CHALLENGED), discussion of alcoholism, brief sexual harassment scene (CHALLENGED)
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,524 followers
March 19, 2020
CW: mention of recreational drug use, underage drinking, talk of depression and alcoholism.

I’ve been excited to read How to Be Remy Cameron since it was announced because of how much I loved Julian’s debut, Running with Lions. He just has such a natural way of crafting characters that feel real, genuine and relatable. And this book didn’t disappoint, not only did it have everything I wanted from it but it also held a few delightful surprises in the folds of its pages.

Remy is the kind of dorky and very easily likeable character you can’t help but love from the very few pages. He’s described as well liked in the book and the author doesn’t only tell you, he also shows you why that is. He’s sweet and funny in a nerdy kind of way, and effortlessly charismatic and confident. But then the minute he’s asked to write an essay describing himself, things start kind of falling apart. He’s been defined by his labels as the Black, gay, adopted kid, his whole life and doesn’t really know who he is outside of them, and if these are really the things he want to be remembered by, he just wants more for himself than being known for his labels.

Full review posted on my blog : Word Wonders
Profile Image for Silvia .
642 reviews1,428 followers
August 12, 2019
I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

3.75 stars

This book follows Remy, an out and proud gay teen, in his quest to find out who he is. I feel like the question "who am I really?" is something that everybody has asked themselves before, and this can be especially hard to answer when you are a marginalized person and you need to understand how your marginalizations intersect.

Personally I felt like the writing improved from the author's debut and the book's themes were also stronger. It was still a little awkward at times but I could overlook that in favor of the characters and the themes.

Overall I feel like this is an important book for all teens and I would highly recommend it if "who am I?" has ever crossed your mind.

TWs (taken from the end of the book): discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters' death, and alcoholism, as well as depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism
Profile Image for Adri.
986 reviews799 followers
June 29, 2019
Julian Winters does it again in this stellar follow-up to Running with Lions! This book made me smile, laugh, ache, and most importantly, think about how we define our place in the world.

Remy's emotional journey in this story is spurred on by confusion, but ultimately that confusion leads him to question what he believes about himself and to discover his own truth. This story makes powerful statements about intersectionality, agency, and wearing the labels we own as a badge of honor that we define on our own terms.

And I think, at its heart, it's truly about a wonderful boy who deserves to be loved and known in every sense. There were times when I couldn't put this book down, and I just can't wait for everyone else to experience that feeling!
Profile Image for Linn.
63 reviews16 followers
October 1, 2019
This book is one of my highlights of the year for many, many reasons. 😭💛 It's sweet and funny, but at the same time really emotional and discusses a lot of important topics. But from the beginning...

1. The characters. I fell head over heels for all the characters, every single one of them is written so clearly and thoughtfully. I loved all of them. Remy, Remys family, his friends, the loveinterest... I even cried over a conversation with the neighbour, because I immediatly cared so much. 😅

2. The relationships. Not only had the characters such a depth to them, also every relationship was explored in such an intense way. Julian Winters really knows how to describe bonds and feelings, which leads me to...

3. Remy is adopted and as he was questioning what defines him, this topic was a big part of his story. In my opinion it was discussed really empathatically and carefully.
Also I LOVE well written familys in books and those parts made me tear up (and by that I mean ugly cry 🤓). So beautiful, it felt so real... aaaah. 😭
And the relationship with Remys little sister was simply wonderful. Such a positive description of children!!! Loved it!
(I let some parts out because of spoilers, but everything was done so well.)

4. The discussion of race, queerness, labels and many more important topics. Just wow! Really insightful and so important. This book explores identity and its layers in a way I've never read before.

5. The aesthetic. I adored the whole atmosphere of this book. The description of light and colours - so beautiful. Also the author made a playlist, which I always love, and it of course fitted perfectly. 😍 Some songs were even mentioned in the book. 😍

6. The cover. I mean why is this so perfect? 😭 Why does this look exactly like Remy? Whyyy... After reading the e-book I immediatly bought the print. 😍

7. Now that I'm done with my list, this point is just random babbling. 🤣 While my review may sound as if the book is heavy, it really is a sweet read, with a super cute lovestory, adorable friends, wonderful sidecharacters, a loving family, a little dog and so much more. YOU HAVE TO READ IT!!!!!

It's one of my highlights of the year, a book I will think about a lot (and let's be honest, I also will reread it a lot 💁‍♀️😂), a really special story full of love and hope and a wonderful message. Everybody who ever thought (had to think) about the labels attached to them: Read it. 💛
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,227 reviews873 followers
August 27, 2023
There are some people who leave our lives and it’s not our job to hold on. To ask, ‘what if,’ even if we want to. We’re supposed to let them leave.


On my blog.

Rep: Black gay mc, Korean-American gay li

Galley provided by publisher

No one is more disappointed by this turn of events than me. I really liked Running with Lions, so was eagerly anticipating this book. It just turned out not to be for me.

How to be Remy Cameron is a coming of age story, about the eponymous Remy Cameron, an adopted gay black kid. When Remy is asked to write an essay about himself as part of a class, he starts to question everything he has heretofore been labelled as. (Side note: you Americans actually get assignments like this in a literature class? I feel so sorry for you.)

I think the easiest way to write this review is to show you the notes I made (which mostly detail why the book didn’t work for me). So.

* Your MC popping a stiffy every time he sees a dude is not a substitute for showing his sexuality, thanks. That just felt awkward and also passes on the message being gay equates to sex.

* References to popping a boner when seeing some dude complete a perfectly normal activity (e.g. pushing his glasses up): innumerable. Maybe you need to see someone about that, Remy.

* Enough with the pop culture references (associated cringes: 1 (thankfully), Harry Potter references: 9). To be fair to this book though, it wasn’t nearly so bad as What if It’s Us. I mean, for one, there were no full body cringes (for which I am eternally grateful).

* Remy: Ian’s art is familiar where might I have seen that before. Hmm no clue.
(cut to me, banging my head on a table)

* Remy: It can’t be Ian, he’s Brook’s friend.
(banging intensifies)

* I mean, to be fair though, I was wrong here. But at the time it sounded stupid.

* Remy stop talking to Ian before I die of secondhand embarrassment from how much you cannot control what you say around him (cringes: 4).

* Can you not posit being demisexual as being “not straight” because you can be both? They are fundamentally different things, they are not mutually exclusive. Being straight or gay is mutually exclusive, i.e. you cannot be both, but demisexuality and heterosexuality are two distinct concepts.

On top of all this, I have to admit I found the book dragged a lot. There were whole passages that I just skimmed else I would have fallen asleep. I think that this was mostly because not a lot happened in the plot. It’s a very introspective book (no bad thing if you like that), and I’m just not the person for those.

But anyway. Don’t take my word for it, because each to their own and everything. You might love this in a way I couldn’t.
Profile Image for Mariam.
908 reviews74 followers
August 13, 2019
THIS IS COMING OUT ON MY BIRTHDAY! WOW! Woooow!
Read August 6th.

Alriiiiighto!!! Review time, friendos. I say, to the no people at all watching out for my reviews!!!

Let's start with: This book gave me intense feelings. it deals with being labelled against one's own wishes. and i'm not talking about misgendering or anything, but like, being forced to acknowledge you're different from people. like, when someone told five year old remy he was "different" because he is "adopted" that hit hard because it made me think of my own ways of how i was labelled as "girly" and "prudish" because of my hijab and my interests.

remy's conflict over how it all affects him without him even choosing it hit me hard because i went through the same ordeal of being thought of as "something" when i didn't know who i was. i resented people who made up their minds about me without getting to know me. telling me i wasn't persian enough because i didn't speak the language. telling me i couldn't be nonbinary because well, look at me, i wear hijab and i am so overwhelmingly feminine.

when i chose none of this.

i didn't choose to have my body, or the labels. i sometimes wish i could remove the labels i adopted two years ago. i wish i could remove them from my brain even but today, as i read how to be Remy cameron, i was struck with how my labels are mine. they're mine to define even if they existed before and they'd go on to exist after i'm gone.

there is a powerful message in this book that touched deep in my heart.

one point there: at one point, a character's sister tells Remy that the character is demisexual when Remy didn't know. She outed him. i didn't know how to feel esp because the character never had a single word spoken in the book. it kind of took something from him esp since the book focuses a lot, remy focuses a lot, on not outing Ian who comes to term with how comfortable he is with being out.
Profile Image for TJ.
711 reviews54 followers
August 27, 2019
This book mainly consists of the phrase “Essay of Doom”, Remy describing his boners, and teenagers giving each other the middle finger throughout their constant banter. Exploring the identity of a black, gay, adopted teen has tons of potential, but those themes were bogged down by the characters’ overcompensatingly “coolness”. For example, Remy would have pointed out that overcompensatingly is an “SAT word”. He points that out often because it’s one of his many quirks that make him ~witty~ and *not like other teens*. Julian Winters is obviously a very charismatic, funny person, and that comes through in his writing— but personally, I found it suffocating while reading. He tried to make Remy so unique and clever, but in the end I was just so annoyed by him. He also felt like a teen boy being written by an older man, which he is. That all said, there’s some good scenes mixed in here, and the themes are interesting when they’re also not affected by the slow pace. It took me what felt like forever to finish these 244 pages, and that’s because I had to keep taking breaks from boredom. The beginning and ending were good, but everything in between felt meh. I wanted to love Remy Cameron, but I’ll have to give Winters another chance some other time. 3.25/5 stars.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,713 followers
December 18, 2021
A sweet and comfy contemporary that explores how others define us but, more importantly, how we define ourselves.

- Follows Remy, a Black adoptee teen who is tasked to write an essay about 'who am I?', spurring him to explore the different parts of his identity - and what his identity means to him.
- This was cute! It was an entertaining read and I enjoyed how raw and genuine Remy's narrative was.
- The romance in this was cute, and I loved that that love interest's own journey with queerness juxtaposed and complemented Remy's own journey.
- It's a solid book, one that will resonate with readers who are exploring and on a journey to understand themselves. This book is not bad by any means - like I said, I enjoyed it! - but it just didn't blow me away nor make an impact, and that's on me, not the book.
Profile Image for Eliza Rapsodia.
371 reviews853 followers
October 7, 2019
Este libro me llamó a atención desde el primer momento por su portada. Un muchacho con una camiseta queer, post-its y un perro beagle. Tuve mucha suerte cuando logré recibirlo de forma anticipada en Netgalley y y la verdad es que no iba con mega expecativas, pero me alegra porque me ha gustado mucho.

Rembrandt Cameron (Remy para los amigos) es un joven que muchos reconocen en su colegio: salió del closet a los 14 años y está orgulloso de su sexualidad. Es el presidente del club de la alianza  hetero-homosexual escolar y es muy amigable y admirado por todos. Pero él mismo no cree que sea tan genial como dicen: es adoptado, negro y gay en una familia blanca. Aunque su familia es maravillosa (y su perra Clover es increíble, como dicen todos), Remy tiene el futuro en sus manos y un ensayo de su clase de literatura sobre quién es como persona le llevará a descubrir cosas que no sabía sobre si mismo.

Me ha gustado How to be Remy Cameron porque me ha sorprendido con ciertos elementos que incluye y en lo amena y entretenida que ha tornado conocer la vida de Remy. Cuando creemos que ya sabemos todos sobre nosotros mismos es cuando pasan cosas que hacen que reevaluemos nuestras relaciones con los demás, con nuestra familia y amigos, y sobre todo aprender a entendernos y queremos mucho más.

La historia está contada en primera persona por Remy y así podemos tener un elenco familiar y de amistades bien definido y cercano. La familia y amigos de Remy (incluso la hermosa perra Clover) tienen momentos y diálogos en la historia que hacen que no sean secundarios de fondo y eso se agradece mucho. Incluso los profesores tiene una representación en el libro y me alegra porque cuando las historias se ambientan en colegios no suelen figurar en prácticamente nada. La historia tiene diversidad y personas de muchos tipos y aunque algunos están más definidos que otros, han estado muy bien.

Si bien a veces los diálogos me parecían un poco inverosímiles (como si los personajes fueran todos geniales para dar respuestas sarcásticas o inteligentes) y la resolución final de un punto de la trama le faltó más chicha y fue muy apresurada, creo que en lineas generales el libro logra construir una historia muy amena con una voz muy agradable como la de Remy para contarnos sobre como las etiquetas que otros nos ponen no definen quien somos. Solo nosotros sabemos la verdad.

En conclusión, me ha gustado mucho conocer el trabajo de Julian Winters y leeré su primera novela —Running with lions, que no está en español—,  y le seguiré la pista con lo que publique. Creo que esta historia haría una muy buena película juvenil. Esperemos que algún día suceda.

********************
REVIEW IN ENGLISH


This book caught my attention because of its cover. A boy with a lovely queer shirt and a beagle. I was very lucky when I got to receive a Netgalley E-arc copy and the truth is that it was good to go without expectations because I liked this one a lot.

Rembrandt Cameron (aka Remy) is a 17-year-old man that is popular at his school: he came out at 14 and is very proud. He is the president of the hetero-homosexual alliance club and he is also very friendly and admired by everyone. But Remy himself doesn't think he's as cool as they say: he's an adopted, black gay kid in a white family. Although the Camerons are wonderful (and Clover the beagle is amazing, as everyone says), Remy has his entire future ahead of him and an essay assignment from his literature class will lead him to discover things he didn't know about himself.

I liked How to be Remy Cameron because I was genuinely surprised with certain themes it included and how engaged I was with the story. When we believe that we know everything about ourselves, things happen that make us reevaluate our relationships with others, with our family and friends, and most of all, we learn to understand and love ourselves more.

The story is told from Remy's pov and we also have a well-rounded cast of characters. His family and friends (even Clover, the super adorable dog) have dialogues and scenes that make them stand out a lot and I truly appreciated. Even teachers have representation in this book and I'm glad because when stories are set in school-related enviroments, teachers tend to be invisible. The story has a lot of diversity as well and although some characters are more defined than others, I really enjoyed all of them.

Although sometimes dialogues were a bit weird (as if all the characters were too great to give sarcastic or intelligent answers all the time) and a certain plot point and its resolution was very rushed and dissapointing, I think that the book manages to build a great story with a really nice voice like Remy's to tell us about self-esteem and growth and how the labels that others put us do not define who we are. Only we know the truth.

Overall, I really enjoyed Julian Winters' books and I will keep an eye on his upcoming novels. This book would make a great YA movie. Hope it happens.
Profile Image for akacya ❦.
1,040 reviews171 followers
May 25, 2022
in this coming-of-age novel, remy cameron’s college essay leads to him going on a journey of self-discovery. remy is an adopted black and gay teenager who worries he cannot define himself outside these labels. he also develops a crush, which plays into the story.

this was a very heartfelt book. i really felt for remy and seeing his relationship with himself, his crush, his family, and his friends develop was so great. i definitely recommend this book for anyone—of any age—still finding themselves.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
March 1, 2020
5 stars

“We have no control over what labels others give us, but we can define who we are by the ones we choose to give ourselves.”


How to Be Remy Cameron was an absolutely delightful read and I really didn't expect anything less from Julian Winters. Winters' sophomore novel follows Remy, a boy who is assigned an essay to write about who he is, which causes him to question everything he thought he knew about himself. (Which sounded like the most relatable thing ever and,,, it was). Remy has been given so many labels since childhood - brother, best friend, Black, gay, adopted - but he's not sure if those labels are all that he is.

This is a story about reconciling with the labels that society assigns you and figuring out who you are on your own terms. It's a book that examines how sometimes people don't know who they are at seventeen and how there's nothing wrong with that. Remy's voice comes through so clearly in this novel and I felt like I was really able to connect to him through that. This is a story about discovering and rediscovering yourself and I feel like it would have been a lot harder to enjoy this story if I didn't like the main character, but reading from Remy's point of view and getting to know him throughout the story was so fun!!

Remy is an incredibly fleshed out main character and he felt like a really authentic teenager to me, not in the least because he's pretty much procrastinating writing this essay for the majority of the book which I can definitely relate to. But Remy also has dreams and interests, and he has friends and people he cares about, and sometimes he fucks up and makes mistakes and hurts those people, and he has no idea who he is for most of this book, but that's what makes this book so good. I don't want to read books about perfect teenagers with perfect grades and perfect relationships, because that's not how this works. And I think Julian Winters in this book does a really good job of showcasing just how messy teenagers can be while also ultimately keeping the light tone of this book throughout.

I not only really appreciated the romance within this book (which I will talk about later), but I also really appreciated the way Remy's friendships were established and handled in this book. I really appreciated that Remy's friends weren't just there to be his friends, they were also established as characters and had lives and personalities of their own and they didn't just exist as a name on the page. I also really appreciated how the fights and misunderstandings between Remy and his friends didn't go unacknowledged because oftentimes I feel like in YA books friendships take a backseat to romance and I definitely feel like that was very much not the case with this book. There is a lot of page time devoted to Remy's relationships with his friends and the way they handle their fights or misunderstandings.

The romance was another thing that I really appreciated about this book and this was definitely not a surprise, seeing how much I enjoyed the romance in Julian Winters' debut. But what I really appreciated about the way romance is written in this book is the emphasis that was always put on consent, which I think is something that is extremely important to see in YA books. Remy and Ian, the love interest, always ask for consent and it isn't made out to be a big deal and it doesn't make their relationship weird and I really appreciated seeing that in YA. It's also worth mentioning that Ian doesn't feel comfortable being out at school and that is never used against him by Remy or by anyone else in this book. Remy doesn't pressure Ian to come out and the overall message is that being out is not necessary to have a fulfilling relationship. And when I say it like that, it really does sound like the bare minimum, but a surprisingly low number of YA books actually acknowledge this and I really appreciated Julian Winters for including it and handling that subject with care.

Remy Cameron was an absolutely delightful read and I will sing its praises for years to come. I absolutely adore the emotional journey that Remy goes on throughout this book and I really appreciate the discussion on labels and boxes and how you don't always have to fit into the ones that society puts you into and how you can live outside of them and be fine!! Everything from the writing to the relationships to the character development in this book was stunning and I truly could not have asked for a better sophomore novel from Julian Winters.


~~~
anyways if someone ever tries to tell me that (asking for) consent isn't attractive, i will shove this book in their face and walk away
Profile Image for Kathy.
Author 1 book222 followers
August 29, 2019
Fantastic writing, seamlessly weaving between heavier and lighter subjects, with characters I absolutely want to befriend.
Profile Image for Cai.
24 reviews10 followers
January 17, 2020
This is a sweet coming-of-age story about an openly gay, Black, adopted teenager who’s struggling to define who he is for himself in the face of others’ assumptions. It’s also a romance. In fact, this is one of the few romance plots I’ve seen in YA where A) it’s an interracial romance that doesn’t involve white people, and B) it’s a gay relationship where one of the partners is closeted and the out partner respects and supports them and doesn’t pressure them to come out. It’s almost like...this is what happens when you let LGBTQIA+ people write stories about our own community?? Wild!

Another thing that apparently happens when you let queer people write our own stories is that there are queer people everywhere. It’s almost like...real life?? There are queer people in your family. There are queer people in your neighbourhood. There are queer people in your school. Eventually, you find each other. This is beautiful. I may have cried. I also appreciated the conversation that Ian and Remy had about consent, and how it was framed as something that isn’t just about sexual situations. I appreciated the way that Brock intervened when , and how he made space for Remy to talk about it later when the crisis had passed. I appreciated the ways that friends, family, and acquaintances showed up for each other in this book.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this story. However, I have a few small, mostly plot-related complaints. Firstly, I found the resolution to the Mad Tagger subplot unsatisfying. I know there was an in-story explanation, and I’m not sure if I’d feel differently if I went back and reread the story with the answer to the mystery in mind, but it just didn’t make sense to me. Secondly, while the “main couple stops taking to each other to build tension for the last-act reunion” thing was less intense and unreasonable than it was in Winters’ first book, it was still...mildly irritating. Finally...was it really necessary to use the word “lame” like that? Surely we have better, less ableist alternatives by now. I don’t remember if it’s as common in the first 3/4 of the book, but it is used multiple times in the last quarter, and could’ve easily been replaced. Like...come on, people.

Content warnings for casual ableist language, mentions of alcoholism, death of a minor character (in the past), discussions of homophobia, homophobic bullying, brief sexual harassment and racial fetishization, brief (joking?) fetishization of a gay boy by a girl, and discussions of racism.
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,869 reviews693 followers
May 21, 2020
Having loved Running With Lions, Julian Winters' debut novel, How to Be Remy Cameron was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. So I was HYPED when I was approved to review an eARC of this novel through Netgalley.

My fate in life, it seems, is to read Julian Winters' books in one sitting, and I'm okay with that. They're just perfect books to read on a rainy (or sunny, because when isn't a great time to read) Saturday afternoon.

Because Remy is different from his peers in a lot of ways, he's often forced to think about how those identities define him. And this increases when he has to write an essay about who he is.

What I especially appreciated about this book, is how incredibly thoughtful it is. There are discussions of what it actually means to be queer, how the allocishet world views queerness, and how those two things are vastly different. There are explorations about what it's like to have been out and sure of yourself for a while, like Remy himself is, or to be new to coming out, like the love interest in this novel. And there's a lot of thought about how you can never really control who others think you are, only what you show the world.

Another important theme in this book is Remy being adopted. He thinks a lot about how this impacts his identity, and what it means to him personally. In the novel, Remy gets to meet his biological half-sister, and this makes him once again re-evaluate what family means. I've definitely read books on adoption before, but I don't think I've ever read one that discussed the topic in such a thoughtful way. I really appreciated this, because while I wasn't adopted myself, my cousin is, and this gave me some additional insight in what her experience might be like. Like Remy, she too has a younger sibling who is their parents' biological child, and I don't think I've ever seen that represented in a book before.

All of this might make it seem like How to Be Remy Cameron is a pretty heavy novel, but it's not at all! It's a very sweet, fast-paced romcom, with a very lovely romance, as well as amazing family relationships. The explorations of what makes up an identity form an extra layer I really loved, though! This novel will likely stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Chase Connor.
Author 29 books280 followers
January 16, 2020
Simply put, I really loved this book. The themes of finding out where one belongs in the world--especially as a child adopted into a family of a different race--and learning that defining oneself is a life long journey really resonated with me. On these two things, I think the author was perfect.

Additionally, I felt that Winters handled the discussions of being other (race/ethnicity and sexuality) with aplomb. He also perfectly captured what it's like to be a teenage boy, learning about one's sexuality, and dealing with urges. It all rang as true to me. I loved the 80s music references, the pop culture references, and the endearing father-son relationship between Remy and his father. This is definitely a book I would read again.

While I feel this was a solid five-star book and worthy of a good review, I do feel that I have to point out that there were two points with which I disagreed with the author. One, I don't understand why the "Mad Tagger" plotline was part of the book. It seemed superfluous and didn't add much to the story. Additionally, Winters implied that demisexuality and heterosexuality are mutually exclusive--and that demisexuality is a sexual orientation. I don't feel the author did this maliciously and this might even have been an editing problem--readers won't know what might have gotten cut during that process. However, since this is an LGBTQ YA book, I felt it necessary to point this out.

Regardless, a book can have a few problems for a reader and still really emotionally connect with them, so I couldn't imagine giving this book anything but 5 stars. I would definitely leap at the chance to read Winters' other stories--RUNNING WITH LIONS is on my Kindle if that's any proof.
Profile Image for Amanda.
2,043 reviews61 followers
June 14, 2020
4.5/5

I really enjoy the novel How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters. Remy is a Black gay teen who is struggling with his identity. At school his skin color and sexuality seem to define him, but he's so much more than that, but he feels like that's all people see. When he's asked to write an essay about "who he is" for a class assignment he struggles with it. While the book is has some tough moments that will tug on your heartstrings it also has moments of sweet teen romance and support and love that will make you smile. A wonderful queer YA contemporary that I will be adding to my physical shelves.

"You're a gift. You're you, no explanations or labels necessary."

The above paragraph was me attempting to write a structured and intelligent review but scrap that lol I'm just going to use this time to gush about everything I loved. Remy was so many different pieces (adopted, queer, Black, brother, son, friend, writer) that fit together to make a relatable character that was just awesome. He and his unique group of friends was fantastic. I especially loved Lucy and Brook who were both quality friends to Remy. I also loved Remy's parents, and they totally reminded me of my husband and I and I realize that my tween must completely be embarrassed by my antics sometimes lol They were loving, supportive and understanding. I also can't leave out a mention of Remy's sister Willow who was adorable. As you can tell I really enjoyed this one so go read it - you won't regret it :)


[[content warnings (taken word-for-word from the back of the book): discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters' death, and alcoholism & depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism]]
Profile Image for sol✯.
766 reviews118 followers
March 15, 2020
3.5 🌟————————————-
let’s just be frank
this was super gay
and I loved it

So, what’s this book about?
Remy Cameron is struggling with his identity. Adopted, Black and Gay are some labels that define parts of him but he is struggling to truly understand who he is.

My Thoughts
This book was enjoyable. It was a fast paced easy contemporary to read The writing style was very accessible and simple.

It was fun and I had a great time
🌈❤️🧡💛💚💙💜
Profile Image for Kristel (hungryandhappy).
1,506 reviews78 followers
January 2, 2020
So cute and adorable, it explores important topics while staying fluffy and unputdownable.
The perfect book to start the new year.
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