Camp is such an incredible book.
I so do not like camping, but I loved CAMP. It made me laugh and feel emotional (signs of a good book) but I also loved how it packed a punch with the weighty topics it discussed. I’ve only read two Rosen books (Jack of Hearts And Other Parts was also phenomenal for this) but I already want way more. His books tackle topics that aren’t talked about enough.
CAMP unpacks (1) toxic masculinity within the queer community, (2) how devastating it can be to have parents who are “accepting” but only to a point, (3) queer stereotypes and expectations like the struggles of femme and masc presenting people go through, and (4) it discusses both queer sex but also how being queer shouldn’t be an inherently sexualised concept. It’s so nuanced and complex and lovingly told.
what it’s about…
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…and who only likes masc boys. Except 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 so that Hudson will definitely “love him back no matter what!!!”
Like the whole premise made me sad because OBVIOUSLY THIS WILL GO WRONG, RANDY!! But is peer pressure and trying to fit in and making terrible decisions part of being a teen? Yes. (Talking about me 😭🙌🏻 I was so dumb.) There’s so much pressure on queer teens too. Are you too gay? Not gay enough? Are you being a stereotype and is that problematic? Or are you being called a “stereotype” but you’re actually being your genuine self? The book talks about it all.
time to go camping!!!!
Did I mention I hate camping yet. The bugs, the lack of wifi, the way nature rustles at night 😩 take me away oh please. Trying to just let these kids have their experiences while I lock myself indoors. I still did enjoy the camping premise 🥺✨The whole atmosphere was so queer-inclusive obviously, so it was kind of lovely the whole time! They do queer history and education, but also sports and craft and bad camp food and canoe trips. It was really 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 epic friendships! 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.
- 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 queer teens. (I wished there had been some queer disability rep though.)
- it celebrated being glamorous and beautiful and tossing gender conformities.
- 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 so glad it covered this: but it talked about how it is NOT lying or wrong to be closeted for your own safety. This is an important message for teens who aren’t safe to come out.
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.”
Thanks Penguin Australia for the ARC! Camp by L.C. Rosen came out in July, 2020.
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?
tell me if you actually like camping/the outdoors 😂👌🏻and then is this book on your tbr? have you read any of Rosen’s books?