Order of the Poison Oak

Title: The Order of The Poison Oak
Author: Brent Hartinger
Pub Date: 2006
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult, GLBT
Challenges: YA, GLBT

The Order of the Poison Oak is intended to be the sequel to The Geography Club (which I read and reviewed last year). I say intended only because it follows the same three best friends: Min, Russ, and Gunnar but you could read TOotPO without having to read Geography Club and vice versa.

It's interesting because recently on the GLBT Challenge Blog there was a post discussing the lack of Bi characters in fiction. And ya know what? It's true. Which is probably one of the reasons why GC and TOotPO are so cool - Min is bi.

Okay. So, Russ, Min, and Gunnar are long time besties and after having a trying school year they decide to go off to summer camp together and be camp counselors for the summer. Super sweet, right? And so unbelievable. BUT we'll suspend our disbelief for a few, won't we?!

While at the camp Min and Russ both dig the same guy - Wes. Wes is *that guy*. You know the one that everyone gets summer crushes on? Maybe the Danny Zucha of the camp?! Anyways like typical "that guy" syndrome, we find out that Wes isn't all that he's cracked up to be.

So that's going on which is always a cool plot line because hey, I know that friends fight over who liked who first. I just think that it's super duper cool to see that it's a boy and a girl having this "fights" (for lack of better word people, there are no Jerry Springer fights here!) over the same boy. That's hot.

Now that's the social/friend aspect of the book. However, there is more - oh so much more - to it. The first couple of weeks of camp is for burn survivors. Russ has to go through the whole emotional process of how to do yell at kids who are being complete and utter turds when you feel bad for them. There's great lessons to be had without being shoved in your face.

Now, I would not recommend this for middle grades. At. All. There are some near sex scenes (both hetero and homo) and the f-bomb gets dropped a couple of times. But it's all done tactfully. And truthfully. They're not gratuitous sex scenes that you're gonna find inside harlequin and they don't really get hot and steamy. It's all done in a very real summer-before-senior-year fashion.

I think I really like Hartinger. I mean, he's by no means a Leviathan or Green (*swoon*) but he rates!


  1. I remember your review last year of Geography Club and it has been on my list ever since. I will try and get that one first.

  2. Well, only Green and Levithan ARE Green and Levithan ;) But this sounds good enough to pick up.


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