Rich, Juliann. Caught in the Crossfire. Bold Strokes Books, 2014.
Jonathan is spending his seventh summer at Spirit Lake Bible Camp, but things have become complicated for him. The appearance of the new camper, Ian, has shown Jonathan that he isn't like the other guys at camp. Ian, who was sent to Bible camp by his foster parents, gladly chooses his orientation over his faith, but Jonathan isn't so sure. He's caught between what he was taught is right and what he feels is right.
This is a well-written summer camp story, complete with all the typical camp hijinx, s'mores, pranks, and plenty of mosquitoes. However, as a survivor of many summers of Christian camp in the Midwest, I was a bit confounded by the author's depictions. This camp seemed like a stereotypical summer camp with a few serious Bible-based discussions thrown in. But there was alcohol available for kids to sneak out of the cafeteria, and one boy smuggled in a huge stack of porn to look at. The campers went skinny dipping. One girl, who is described as being homeschooled with her nine siblings, is expected to "dance seductively" in a play that some of the campers are performing on Parents Day. There was only mention of a brief Sunday service, rather than daily or twice-daily services that are typical at Christian camps. None of these things describe the Bible-based camps I attended, so the story didn't ring true to me for a Bible camp, but instead a standard summer camp with a few Christian discussions thrown in.
The conflict between those who believed that being gay is a sin and those who did not rang true, however, as did Jonathan's internal struggles with wanting to please god and struggling with his feelings for Ian. This is still a major issue in American society, so this book, while not filling an empty niche, fits well with others of its ilk, and may appeal to religious readers who might not otherwise pick up a book about LGBT characters.
Recommended for: teens
Red Flags: a few homophobic slurs, the campers steal wine and get drunk at a bonfire, several teens make out at the same bonfire, Jonathan and Ian have sex in the woods, some campers go skinny dipping, one camper brings a stack of [his dad's] porn for his bunk mates to enjoy
Overall Rating:3/5 stars
Read-Alikes: The God Box, The Order of the Poison Oak, Rapture Practice: A True Story About Growing Up Gay in an Evangelical Family,