Caught in the Crossfire
Author: Juliann Rich
Review Copy Provided by Publisher via RABT
Two boys at Bible camp; one forbidden love.
That is the dilemma sixteen-year-old Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, an oasis for teen believers situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore. He is expecting a summer of mosquito bites, bonfires with s’mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor, who always helps Jonathan see his life in perfect focus.
What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings. Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.
I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed pretty much every book i’ve read that has been published by Bold Strokes Books, so when Caught in the Crossfire showed up on the blog tour list, I was intrigued by the description and knew that the publisher would give me a good read, so I opted in. One of thing that intrigued me about the book was how the author was going to handle the conflict between the LGBT coming of age theme and the religious setting (a teenage bible camp). I will admit that I was kind of ambivalent because often it turns into a demonization of either one or the other points of view – so seeing how the author handled the situation was going to be important to my overall enjoyment of the book.
But when I picked up my kindle and started reading, I was sucked it – it wasn’t a long book (less than 200pgs), which meant that it only took me a metro ride and a half (to/from work and then from again) to read it. There was something relatable about Jonathan and Ian and I don’t even fall into the LGBT demographic, but they were people that I think most teens or even adults could identify with, even if they aren’t going through the same struggles. I also found that the author did a good job of not demonizing the religious perspective, she tried to present a view that took into consideration both the positives and negatives of the current perceptions about how the church treats homosexual individuals – I liked the difference between the supportive and unsupportive camp counselors and how their interpretations of the bible differed. I could tell that the author had done her research into the various perspectives that are out there.
Overall, I gave Caught in the Crossfire (which looking back is a great title) 4 stars. The characters were relatable and the conflict in the story presented in a way that was fulfilling without being over-emotional (if that makes sense). I’d recommend it to people interested in YA GLBT titles, in particular, those who know individuals struggling with conflict as they explore the idea of self-identity. I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out in September, to see what happens to Jonathan after he leaves bible camp.