The Order of the Poison Oak

Brent Hartinger

Brent Hartinger’s novel Geography Club introduced us to Russel Middlebrook and his friends, a group of gay and lesbian teens (as well as a straight boy who’s targeted by bullies) who find refuge and support with each other. They call their group “the Geography Club,” thinking that will be enough to avoid stirring the interest of outsiders. Hartinger’s sequel, The Order of the Poison Oak, follows Russel and his friends on their summer adventure as camp counselors, putting a queer twist on both “summer lovin’” and typical camp fun. Although this is technically a young-adult book, Hartinger’s storytelling gifts make it a worthy read for anyone. It’s of particular interest for those who remember what it was like to grow up gay. We all should have been lucky enough to have a pal like Russel.