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.
It’s hard to think of a more awkward setting for a gay love story, but I love it! The pray-the-gay-away people completely creep me out. I can’t imagine being a young man, just figuring out who he is, and be subjected to these people. That said, a huge positive about this book is the author didn’t vilify religion or God. She offered a very balanced view, giving different interpretations of biblical arguments for and against homosexuality. Jonathan is able to find a way to be comfortable with himself inside his faith. That’s a difficult and powerful thing.
The relationship between Jonathan and Ian was a little fast, but very typical of teenagers. It wasn’t “insta-love” at least. There was also good, realistic chemistry between them. Being the only two gay boys in the camp, you might think they gravitated to each other out of convenience, but I never got that feeling here.
My only problem with the book is there were a few times I wanted to smack Jonathan upside the head for the way he treated Ian. I get it that he was conflicted and scared, but he should have talked to Ian about it rather than pushing him away. Though this too is probably typical of a teenage boy. I also didn’t really buy the characters of Dawn and Simon. They almost seemed too understanding and perfect.
Overall, I give CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE...
Plot - 4 bookmarks
Character Development - 4 bookmarks
Love Story - 5 bookmarks (I like how it ended. Not a HEA or HFN, but realistic.)
Handling of Sensitive Subjects - 5 bookmarks!
Dream Cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) - Dylan O’Brien (Jonathan), A younger Prince Harry - my go-to for HAWT redheads (Ian), Peter Dinkledge (Simon), Alexander Ludwig (Jake), Jeanette McCurdy (Bethany)