An Epistolary Queer Middle Grade Novel Set At Camp? Yes, Please! ft. To Night Owl, From Dogfish

I usually come across LGBT Middle Grade Books, where the protagonist was in an environment not considered safe to come out. More like the vibe of an anxious teen that feels “different”. I know it’s more closer to a realistic approach at how people would behave.
But this book – is everything I wanted in a Middle grade book that talks about LGBT Themes or is LGBTQ+ Inclusive. Ofcourse, in this one it’s the parents that are gay. ๐Ÿ˜›


SYNOPSIS


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Avery Bloom, who’s bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who’s fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends–and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can’t imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?


THOUGHTS


AVERY AND BETT

Written purely in letters, makes this book a very character driven story for me. Avery and Bett are total opposites. And each has such a distinct voice. I later read that each character was written by two different authors, which makes sense now, as this whole book is written by two authors as well. Avery and Bett though,they were such pure souls.

โ€œNo oneโ€™s supposed to tell anyone, โ€œYou two shouldnโ€™t love each other.โ€ But maybe, also, no oneโ€™s supposed to tell anyone, โ€œYou two should love each other.โ€

To NightOwl, From Dogfish.

SUMMER CAMPS


Okay, I am going to sound bias. But I love stories set in Summer Camp. They make a good setting to explore themes like friendship, bonding with a touch of adventure to it. Also, these activities are so much fun to read.
Bett and Avery who as I told you earlier are entirely opposites are forced to go the CIGI Summer Camp that focused on Science & technology while their fathers take a trip to China. There is another “traditional” summer camp they go to which is quite different and I liked how both setting play such a significant part for the bonding and friendship to bloom.

SUPPORTIVE ADULT CHARACTERS

I like how all the adults in this book were so supportive and had such a good relationship with the girls despite the differences between themselves. We get to meet Avery’s Mom, Bett’s Granny
(Gaga) and the gay dads obviously. I liked how they are constantly trying to create a safe environment for the girls. This is such a fluff, feel good book to be honest! I was constantly smiling at everything.

โ€œHere’s what we have seen: The way one story ends but then starts up again. The way families are made from people who want to be together more than they want to be apart. The way no one can tell you what is or isn’t a family. Well, they can tell you but you don’t have to listen and you shouldn’t listen. You need to only listen to your heart. The way worrying is sometimes about the wrong thing. The way some people are bold and some people are more scared, but once in a while the parts switch. The way you can discover love even when you don’t expect it.โ€

To NightOwl, From Dogfish.

FRIENDSHIP & FAMILY

This has its twists. and OMG I so badly wanted them to be a family.
Little squabbles and stupid fights. Jealousy and the family scenes. I loved it. There is a scene about the girls talking to each other about their menstruation cycles and that is so well written especially with the whole Gay Dads scenario.

THE “DID YOU KNOW” ASPECT

I don’t know if this is a an official trope to like. But I love when novels have these little “did you know” facts sprinkled around the novel. It’s usually related with some kind of subject the characters are obsessed with and I cherish those aspects so much. In this case, Avery was always worried about health and picked up on random scientific stuff. While Avery picked up on different animal species as she loved Animals. I am guessing this a typical middle grade stuff, because I see a lot of Middle grade novels have this. Of course for obvious reasons but I love it.


RATING : 5.0/5.0


Overall, this book made my heart all mushy. I laughed and cried happy tears. . I couldn’t stop reading this book and was so engrossed in how they would figure out being a family. Please just read this book! It’s really good. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s so underrated.


DETAILS


Published: February 12th 2019
Genre: Middle Grade , LGBTQ+
Pages: 304
Publisher: Dial Books

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