Order of the Poison Oak, The

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9780060567316: Order of the Poison Oak, The
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Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night.

Things happen.

Geography Club's Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger's third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It's also the story of Russel's latest club, the Order of the Poison Oak, a secret society dedicated to helping its members see life's hidden beauty and accept its sometimes painful sting.

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About the Author:

Brent Hartinger has been a full-time author for many years, writing novels, plays, and screenplays. He lives in Washington State. Among his books are Geography Club and its sequel, The Order of the Poison Oak, as well as The Last Chance Texaco and Split Screen. Like Dave and his friends, as a teenager he resisted getting a job for as long as possible but finally was forced by his parents to go to work as a lifeguard at age sixteen. He still smells like coconut sunblock.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 8 Up–Sixteen-year-old Russel Middlebrook hopes to escape his identity as the token gay guy at school by spending the summer as a counselor in a camp for burn victims. At first he finds that controlling eight hyperactive, 10-year-old hellions is grueling, but once he charms them with a retelling of a fable based on Native American legend in which a multicolored crow is burnt black by fire, he has no trouble taming them. And with their cooperation and enthusiasm, he creates the Order of the Poison Oak, a special club dedicated to outcasts of all types. With its titillating cover, high dramatics, and steamy romance triangles, Hartinger's novel will definitely score big with teens hankering for a sequel to Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003). But even with improved characterizations and fast pacing, it's not enough to cloak the author's less-than-subtle attempt at equating burn-scar victims with victims of homophobic bigotry and prejudice. Unfortunately, this well-intended yet domineering metaphor smothers many of the novel's better elements, and ultimately will render more groans than shouts of triumph from its readers.–Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
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