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This book follows Randy, a teen attending a camp for LGBTQ+ teens. He’s been attending for years and has always fit right in with the musical theatre kids, performing in the musicals and loving the celebration of queer identity. However, this year he’s decided to trade in nail polish and musicals to fit the masculine stereotype and impress his long time crush, Hunter. Randy, now going by ‘Del’, is buff and straight-passing and immediately catches Hunter’s eye. As the two begin a relationship, Randy has to question how much he’s willing to do for love, and is it even really love if he’s not himself?
I was expecting a cute, fun, summertime romance with this book and although I definitely got that, I also got so much more. This book explored some important issues within the LGBTQ+ community that I’ve never seen discussed in a book before. It was also just such a lovely celebration of queer culture and identity and a joy to read!
This book was such a fun and addicting read. I was meant to be reading it over 5 days as a buddy read with friends and just couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing much quicker than planned (sorry guys!). The characters were so well-written and three dimensional and funny and just an overall delight to read about. This book is definitely one that celebrates friendship, without the expectation of romance or anything else between two gay guys. Queer friendship is definitely something that I love in books and this one does it so well. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the ‘Del’ - the Randy pretending to be someone else - aspect as much as I did. Although I definitely started off cringing a little I did end up really enjoying his relationship with Hunter and the growth and development of both boys, separately and together.
The book discusses several important issues too: there are camp-wide history lessons and the reader can learn a bit about pre-Stonewall gay history and the movements from that time, these discussions about identity tied in really well with the main plot of the book, too; there is also so much sex positivity which is really great to see in a YA novel, especially as LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education is so lacking, it’s nice to think that this book may help a queer teen out in that aspect as well as many others; there are also ideas of toxic masculinity and the pressure on gay men to appear ‘normal’ (eg. straight) which were an integral part of the novel and so so interesting. This book of course also has so much rep (there is not one significant cishet character and I love that). There’s so much more I could talk about here, as this book truly had some of the most important conversations in it.
This is where I’d usually write about negative points of a book and I’m struggling. All I’d say is that this book has an awful lot of musical references and, as someone who doesn’t know anything about musical theatre, I felt almost left out of the joke? You definitely don’t need to be a fan of musical theatre to enjoy this but I imagine it would really enrich the experience!
Overall, this book was delightful and one I’d definitely recommend. It managed to wrap up some really important conversations in a really sweet, fun story that I loved. I’ve already ordered the author’s other book and it’s definitely got me thinking.