Kirkus Reviews QR Code
CAMP by L.C. Rosen


by L.C. Rosen

Pub Date: May 26th, 2020
ISBN: 978-0-316-53775-9
Publisher: Little, Brown

A lovelorn gay Jewish teen shrouds his identity and sets a man-catching plan in motion at a queer summer camp.

Randall “Randy” Kapplehoff now goes by Del. He’s 16, at an LGBTQIA+ summer camp for the fourth year, and ready to finally hook, line, and sink the masc4masc love of his life. Previous seasons have been about starring in the camp’s annual theatrical production in gender-bending roles and painting his nails to express his inner shimmer. But longtime crush, hunky Hudson Aaronson-Lim (a charismatic serial dater), is more soccer than sequin, so Del cultivates a disingenuous shell to attract him (which he does) and keep him as a boyfriend, turning his back on the production of Bye Bye Birdie (which he regrets). He finds that even in a safe place of self-expression, there are still lots of layers to figure out, labels to peel off, and pasts to evaluate. Sex-positive (and safe) sexual awakenings and activity are peppered throughout. Gender fluidity is de rigueur, and a little queer history is layered in to pique interest in the past. The underlying message is drag: We’re all in it at some point. But are you treating or tricking yourself and your audience? This novel has the appeal of a rom-com movie-makeover but with more substantive explorations of self-betrayal, self-evaluation, and eventual awakening. Secondary characters are ethnically diverse; Hudson is Korean and Ukrainian.

A drag act that plays with compassion and camp.

(Fiction. 14-18)