Camp

Camp
Written by L.C. Rosen
Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Published July 2nd 2020
384 Pages
Thank you to Penguin Books Australia
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★★★★☆
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?
Randy Kapplehoff is a self proclaimed theatre connoisseur, gentle, compassionate and fabulously queer. Each summer, Randy escapes small town Eastern Ohio for Camp Outland, a camp for adolescents identifying as queer to celebrate their identities and individuality within a supportive environment. Randy has undergone a transformation this year, a masculine and muscular version of himself in the hope of snagging himself a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend but the manly man of men, Hudson. Gone are the unicorn bedsheets, the showtunes and nail polish in a lovely shade of Unicorn Trampocalypse and hello to sportsball, highfives and friendly arse patting. Strictly in a that was a great thing you did with that sportsball kind of way.

Randy is a brilliant character, sixteen and crushing entirely too hard on Hudson. After a small and totally normal amount of internet investigation, Randy learns that Hudson only likes masculine, straight presenting men, feminine or androgynous people need not apply. Hudson is an interesting character, his enthusiasm and tenacity is intoxicating but beneath his audacious manly man exterior is a scared young man and casualty of his environment. When Hudson came out to his parents, they were less than accepting so for Hudson, playing the straight presenting, various sportsball loving son was a coping mechanism to feel accepted. Supportive, understanding Randy gently helps Hudson to see that feminine or androgynous people are not stereotypes, having a preference for Unicorn Trampocalypse nail polish and being gay is not mutually exclusive.

Camp Outland is a wonderfully supportive environment and employs predominately queer counsellors and team members, understanding the issues facing queer teens. I imagine that many queer teens who are facing upheaval and adversity in their lives would benefit from having someone to talk to who understands and has been through similar experiences and it was a lovely touch to see the camp adults interacting with campers so positively and compassionately. The counsellors arrange activities so the campers don't have many opportunities to get it on but are incredibly sex positive and well aware that large groups of teens are going to get frisky and encourage safe sex, even providing protection for those hooking up. It's just another aspect of L.C. Rosen's novels that I absolutely love, acknowledging that some teens are sexually active and consent and education on being safe are so incredibly important. 

Although Camp is a hilariously fun read, it also discusses toxic masculinity, prejudice, self esteem and mental health, both Randy and Hudson express feelings of isolation and feelings of erasure as both young men feel they need to conceal their identities to be accepted by straight, often queerphobic society. It highlights the need to create inclusiveness within our communities and as allies, to boost voices within the queer community to educate and spread awareness. 

It was absolutely brilliant! L.C. Rosen is a remarkable author creating brilliantly entertaining queer young adult novels with heart and a side of jazz hands. Superb! 

10 comments

  1. I don't think I have read any queer focused books that take on toxic masculinity. I bet it adds something new to the discussion, which I always appreciate.

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    1. There's a book by an Australian author called Invisible Boys that's also an incredible read in that regard. Camp is brilliant, hilarious and heartfelt. I'd love to see what you think of it!

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  2. Yay, I'm so glad that you loved this one. I like that it's a fun read but that it also focuses on some bigger/tougher issues and handles it well. I read Jack of Hearts by this author and LOVED it, so Camp is definitely on my list!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I had huge expectations after absolutely loving Jack of Hearts as well Lauren and it definitely didn't disappoint. It's fabulous! You'll adore this one Lauren!

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  3. Great review. This sounds like a really good book which is both enjoyable and explores some important issues. You always convince me I need to read books with your reviews though so you know this will be added to the old TBR.

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    1. Yes, you must add this one immediately! It's brilliantly entertaining and such a lovely read!

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  4. I loved Rosen's debut novel. It was brash and honest so I'm really looking forward to reading this one too.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. He does that so incredibly well doesn't he! I love how sex positive these books are and he isn't afraid to write about awkward sex and encourages discussion of gender, stereotypes and toxic masculinity. Such a brilliant read.

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  5. I hadn't heard of this one! It sounds wonderful! Lovely review as always. ;)

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. Thanks darling. You'll really enjoy this one and can't wait to see what you think of it!

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