Sunday, June 28, 2020

REVIEW: Camp by LC Rosen

Well, how good is Camp by LC Rosen? When I first saw the book on Netgalley, my first thought was 'I love the cover' and I still think it is very eye-catching. Then I saw it was written by LC Rosen and I recently read and loved Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by the same author so that piqued my interest. Then! I found this book is about queer teenagers who go to a summer camp specifically for a safe space to celebrate their queerness and that was it, I was sold.

The premise of Camp is such that readers must know from the outset that things will Go Wrong but I’m here for the journey so that didn’t bother me. So, Randy has been going to Camp Outland for years. He takes part in the summer musical, it’s where he’s met all his best friends and it’s where he fell in love-from-afar with Hudson. Hudson, who doesn’t even know Randy exists because Hudson only likes straight-acting masculine guys. So Randy has A Plan. This year, he’s come to camp with a total make-over. He’s cut his hair, lost weight and he’s trying out a new masculine look to woo the heart of Hudson.  He's even abandoning the musical in order to take part in all the sports activities that Hudson does.  He figures it'll be okay to just have cosmetic changes and it's not that bad because who he is inside is the same and if he stops wearing nail polish just until Hudson falls for him, that'll be okay, right?

Despite the inherent mess that the premise causes, what I loved about this book is the very idea of such a wonderful, supportive summer camp.  I love the idea of this safe space for queer teens who need a place to unwind and have fun without negativity or judgement.  I loved that this book included a wide representation of the LGBT+ community and that Randy’s friends support him but also question him like crazy about this (pretty dumb) plan.  I think that Camp is pretty focused on this relationship between Randy and Hudson but there is also a pretty great character development between these two main characters with each of them learning a great deal more about themselves and what they're about.  Randy's friendship group was another major strength of the novel though and I was living for them calling out Randy's behaviour throughout the book. 

I loved the exploration of toxic masculinity, internalised homophobia, and gender roles. I loved the core message of ‘be and love yourself’ I also loved that LGBT history is subtly woven through the story. Camp is definitely one to look out for!

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