Review by Booklist Review
Randy has spent summer after spectacular summer at Camp Outland, a camp for queer kids, where he gets to be his most extravagant self. It's been perfect, except for one thing: Randy's years-long crush on Hudson Aaronson-Lim, a supermasculine camper who famously only dates other masc guys. Randy is convinced that this will be the summer he lands the guy of his dreams. He's spent the whole year turning himself into the guy of Hudson's dreams to make it happen: he's buffed up, cut his hair, and changed his name to Del. It means no more camp musical, no more Unicorn Trampocalpyse nail polish, and no more wild outfits. Randy--er, Del--knows it's all worth it for love. But is this really love if Hudson doesn't know who he truly is? As he did in Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) (2018), Rosen digs into nuances, unearthing biases and internalized prejudices within the LGBTQ+ community, while always handling his characters with care. Sex is discussed frankly, but until the denouement, the story is more screwball than ribald. Though he struggles to chart a course for himself, Randy is supported by friends of all orientations, who help him find his way. An essential pick for teens figuring out who and how to love.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
At Camp Outland, a Connecticut sleepaway camp where everyone's queer, 16-year-old Randy feels fully himself, enjoying "who-cares-if-your-wrists-are-loose-freedom." He's been a camper there since he was 12, and he and his friends in the drama cabin live and breathe theater. But this summer is different. Randy has butched up, gone out for sports, and started going by "Del" to land camp lothario Hudson, and not just for a fling, either: Randy's been crushing for four years now, and he's out for love. But can love be built on a lie? Rosen (Jack of Hearts ) portrays Camp Outland as an LGBTQ idyll replete with queer history talks and gender-blind theater casting. He also takes on the "straight-acting" gay men who look down on Randy and his friends-- friends who, in turn, disapprove of masc4masc Hudson--and shows that the butch-fem divide may be narrower than it seems (Randy's friends disapprove of masc4masc Hudson, and Randy has his own doubts) in a fun, inclusive story that's sex-, romance-, and LGBTQ-positive. Ages 14--up. Agent: Joy Tutela, David Black Literary. (May)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--Randy always spends the whole school year eagerly anticipating his month at Camp Outland, the sleepaway camp for queer teens where he lets his femme flag fly and participates in theater. But this year will be different: Randy has a plan to woo Hudson, the hottest boy at camp, who only dates masculine boys. Randy comes to camp without his sparkly nail polish and false eyelashes, but with toned abs and a new nickname, Del. Hudson doesn't recognize Del and the boys get to know one another through a new assortment of activities: hiking, obstacle course, and absolutely no theater. As they begin to fall in love, Hudson shares stories about his family, like bonding with his grandmother over makeup. As Del gradually shows off his feminine side, Hudson unleashes his internalized homophobia. Del--or Randy--has to question whether all this work is worth it to win over a boy who may never love the real him. Fabulous Camp Outland welcomes a diverse range of queer teens, with supporting characters who are trans, nonbinary, ace, and demisexual. Randy is white and Jewish; Hudson is Korean and Jewish. VERDICT Like Rosen's earlier work, Jack of Hearts, and with an ensemble cast well worth cheering on, this charming book describes sex in a frank, almost procedural way and is therefore best suited to libraries serving older teens.--Shira Pilarski, Farmington Community Library, MI
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
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) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.