C.G. Drews's Reviews > Camp

Camp by Lev A.C. Rosen
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really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary, read-2020, ya-male-narrators, young-adult

I just felt way too many things reading this incredible book. 😭It absolutely made me laugh AND feel teary, which is one of the best signs of a good book. But what I really have to talk about?? The fact that Rosen books unpack topics I don't see handled often in YA. I raved about Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) which you seriously need to read as well, and how it talked about so many "taboo" subjects, not just for YA but for queer lit. And here is Camp, unpacking toxic masculinity in the queer community, talking about how devastating it can be to have parents who are "accepting" but only to a point, about queer stereotypes and expectations, about femme and masc presenting people and the struggles unique to both, and discussing both queer sex and how being queer is not an inherently sexualised concept but how so many queer teens reject parts of themselves in order not to be seen that way. It's so !!! Nuanced and complex and lovingly told!! Absolutely the kind of book I wish I had as a teen.

Also can we talk about the A+ premise?! Randy is off to queer camp (a glorious 4 weeks of every summer where everyone is queer and celebrated) but this time he's determined to win over the heart of the dashing Hudson, known heartbreaker and player...but who only likes masc boys. And Randy is femme. So Randy "changes" himself and stages this basically 1-man-broadway production to get Hudson to fall in love with him in 4 weeks without accidentally revealing his true self until the right moment when Hudson will definitely "Love him back no matter what!!!" says Randy. Hopefully. Doomed?

Like the whole premise made me sad because I'm like OBVIOUSLY THIS WILL GO WRONG, RANDY!! But was this also me as a teen? 100% yes. And I think this is so important to talk about through a queer lens too: there's so much masking for queer teens. Are you too gay? Not gay enough? Are you being a stereotype problematically?! Or are you being a stereotype because you genuinely enjoy that? The book talks about it all.

So it is set in a camp! I absolutely thoroughly hate camping and the outdoors and I just :) only now remembered this. But it also took me back to my teen camps and how deeply hyped they were until I got there and softly wanted to die. BUT ANYWAY. This one is amazing. So queer inclusive. I mean, everyone is queer. Supportive. They do queer education too, but there's theatre and sports and bad camp food and canoe trips. The works. It was so fun to read!
Connie says a weekend in the woods is what camp is all about. I say the point of camp is to be able to be near enough to the woods to appreciate them, but not live in them.


other things I loved:
➢ the friendships at camp!! George and Ashleigh are AMAING. George is the purest most lovely drama queen, femme and delivers the best lines. Ashleigh is demisexual and crushing on a straight lifeguard that her friends are trying to distract her from. They are an EPIC friendship trio! But also...
➢ there are so many amazing side characters? All the theatre kids are lovely and hyper, salty and real and complex. And so much loving rep! Nonbinary characters, trans teens and leaders, an aro/ace girl, POC teens. (I wished there had been some queer disability rep though.)
➢ it celebrated being glamours and beautiful and tossing gender confirmities
➢ MARK. Camp leader. Absolutely dramatic. Absolutely loved him. (Basically Randy's like "I'm going to do sports not theatre" and Mark was just "🙂🙂🙂I need to lie down and talk to my therapist 🙂🙂🙂".
➢ how it unpacked lust vs love + confused teen feels + safe sex + being genuine vs masking
➢ AND (I'm so glad it did this) it talked about how it is NOT lying or fake or wrong to be closeted for your own safety. This is an important message for teens how aren't safe to come out.

One thing I would love is a little more emotion in the characters/writing to deepen the characters, but that's a personal stylistic preference for me.

Every time YA gets more books like this, the world becomes a better place. Truuuuue. It's for queer teens, but I also think straight kids should be reading this. It's inclusive and loving. It's also so fun! Glitzy and glamorous, and about exploring different parts of yourself and deciding what's a stereotype, what's you, and what's a mask for the world.

"I think it's weak willed to be a stereotype. Being what everyone tells you you should be. I think being more...masculine, I guess, is strength. I think it's better."
"That's ridiculous," I say. "My team just kicked your ass in high femme."

"He said it because of what his parents have said to him for years though."
"That's not an excuse," Mark says. "Terrible things happening to you are never an excuse to do them to someone else. But maybe it's a reason to forgive him...if he's willing to apologize. And change."
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Reading Progress

November 7, 2019 – Shelved
November 7, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
May 8, 2020 – Started Reading
May 9, 2020 – Shelved as: contemporary
May 9, 2020 – Shelved as: read-2020
May 9, 2020 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators
May 9, 2020 – Shelved as: young-adult
May 9, 2020 – Finished Reading

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