Camp by author Lev A.C. Rosen
Camp is an LGBTQIA YA novel. That’s a lot of letters to say that this is a diverse, gay, young adult romcom about two boys and first love.
Camp is almost aggressively inclusive. There is a character from seemingly every gender and sexual identity as well as a strong racial and age mix. It goes out of its way to mention a character’s race. And not just simple black or white but Afro Brazilian or Jewish Middle Eastern.
I was honestly surprised it didn’t shoehorn in a couple of mentally and physically handicapped characters but I guess it does take place at camp and no matter how progressive it’s hard to take a wheel chair camping.
The inclusivity is not truly an issue with this book though. It’s nice to see a lot of boxes checked on a book that is meant for a young audience. They are finally seeing the representation we just did not have in the books of our youth.
No, the problem with Camp is that it’s a very stereotypical romantic comedy complete with problematic tropes. It’s about Del who is attending gay summer camp this year after having completely changed his look and personality. See, he wants to woo Hudson, his dream man. His dream man who wouldn’t notice him because they have nothing in common and aren’t each others’ types.
I take issue with any time this trope is glorified. I don’t really care that the book ends a little differently than these stories tend to. You should never change who you are for love. That’s not love. Love likes that you’re a flaming queen and not butch. Love likes your nails painted with sparkles. And love LOVES musical theater.
But Del is too damn young to know that so he turns himself into what he thinks Hudson wants. And it works. Sigh, it works. Please don’t do this at home kids.
I won’t totally spoil the ending of this one but I will say that despite all of these flaws the book was overall pretty cute. It’s a quick and easy read that sucks you into young love. If you like that kind of book, you’ll like Camp.
Now, I do want to touch on something that stood out to me. Typically, in straight YA romance novels we have two young love birds who get together in the end. And by get together I mean, go to prom, slow dance, kiss a little. What I don’t mean is have graphic sex in detail for me to read about.
I couldn’t think of a straight YA romance book that I’ve read that didn’t proverbially fade to black right as the deed was about to go down. I think that’s what made the hookup scene in Camp all the more surprising to me.
I am all for sex positivity and I appreciate that is what Camp was striving for. However, I felt a little uncomfortable reading about two underage boys having full penetrative anal sex. I really wasn’t ready for that in this otherwise tame and sweet book.
Honestly, I think it’s just the underage thing I can’t get my head around. I know that teenagers have sex. And a lot of it. But I don’t want to be a part of it, I’m in my 30s. As an adult reading the book I just felt kind of creepy. When it’s on teen drama shows I don’t feel weird cause those “kids” are all actors in their 30s!
Regardless, I think Camp is the first stage of an evolving genre. The YA lit of tomorrow is going to look a lot different than it did 20 years ago. And that’s a good thing. But it’s also probably best that young people are reading more of it than I am.
3/5 pride flags 🏳️🌈🏳️🌈🏳️🌈
For more LGBTQ YA Lit check out If I Was Your Girl.
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Buy it here: Camp