Title: On a Summer Night
Author: Gabriel D. Vidrine
Category: YA Contemporary (LGBTQIAP+)
Publisher/Date: NineStar Press/2 April 2018
Fourteen-year-old Casey is determined to have fun this summer going to camp with his best friend, Ella. His overprotective mother frets that attending this one instead of trans camp like he’s always done will cause problems, but Casey has his heart set on going stealth anyway.
His mom just might be right.
All Ella wants is love for her best friend, and she’s determined to set him up with someone, despite Casey’s protests that he just wants to have fun, not get involved in a summer romance. But things get complicated when camp bully Ryan focuses his energies on the two friends. At least Casey’s cute bunkmate, Gavin, appears interested in getting to know him better, making Casey rethink the whole romance thing.
Until he finds out Gavin and Ryan are good friends.
Summer camp turns into so much more when Casey has to decide if Gavin is worth pursuing, friend of a bully or not.
There’s just one more problem: Ryan knows Casey is transgender.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for transphobia, homophobia, aphobia, bullying, and violence (not graphic).
This is one of those books where I really enjoyed the story itself, but a lot of the characterization fell short for me. I really enjoyed reading it overall; I loved getting a book with younger queer kids and a sweet romance and it was a fun, quick read. The writing itself is pleasant to read and kept me hooked. Additionally, the ending of the book was really satisfying and left my heart in a good place. This was a feel-good read, despite the heavier subjects it touched upon, and I really loved that.
I wasn’t fully sold on the romance itself; I honestly felt that Casey had forgiven Gavin a little too quickly because he hadn’t been that great to him for a large portion of the book, and I couldn’t help but find the romance a bit off-putting because of that. Additionally, as much as I loved Ella as a confident aroace teen who was secure in her queer identity, I felt a little iffy about how she seemed to be pushing a romance onto Casey as if she were living vicariously through him. These things didn’t ruin the book for me, but they did stick out and dropped this book down from a five star book to a four star book for me.
The one other thing that bothered me personally is how it kind of felt like the book was treating gender as a binary thing; this struck me as kind of odd, though, because the author theirself is actually nonbinary. This wasn’t a large critique and because the author is nonbinary I’m going to let this point go, but it did feel funny while I was reading it.
Overall, this is a fun little summer camp romance that has a strong sense of place and a good storyline running through it. If that’s the kind of thing you like, it may be worth picking up!
Final rating: 4 of 5 stars