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Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen. Geography Club's Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger's third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It's also the story of Russel's latest cl Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen. Geography Club's Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger's third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It's also the story of Russel's latest club, the Order of the Poison Oak, a secret society dedicated to helping its members see life's hidden beauty and accept its sometimes painful sting.


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Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen. Geography Club's Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger's third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It's also the story of Russel's latest cl Summer camp is different from high school. Something about spending the night. Things happen. Geography Club's Russel Middlebrook is back, and he and his friends are off to work as counselors at a summer camp. Brent Hartinger's third novel is the story of Indian legends, skinny-dipping in moonlit coves, and passionate summer romance. It's also the story of Russel's latest club, the Order of the Poison Oak, a secret society dedicated to helping its members see life's hidden beauty and accept its sometimes painful sting.

30 review for The Order of the Poison Oak

  1. 4 out of 5

    LFPL Teen Services

    Russel Middlebrook is not having a good time at school. Ever since his “Geography Club” was exposed as really being a Gay, Bisexual, Straight Alliance. Now, he can’t wait to get away for the summer to anywhere where he won’t be known as the “gay kid”. When his best friends Gunnar and Min invite him to get a job with them as counselors at a summer camp for burn victims, Russel thinks he’ll have it made. But being a counselor for a bunch of 9-year-old “beasts” as he calls them is more than Russel b Russel Middlebrook is not having a good time at school. Ever since his “Geography Club” was exposed as really being a Gay, Bisexual, Straight Alliance. Now, he can’t wait to get away for the summer to anywhere where he won’t be known as the “gay kid”. When his best friends Gunnar and Min invite him to get a job with them as counselors at a summer camp for burn victims, Russel thinks he’ll have it made. But being a counselor for a bunch of 9-year-old “beasts” as he calls them is more than Russel bargained for. Russel needs to find a way to assert his authority yet get the kids to see him as their friend. This includes his forming a secret society known as the Order of the Poison Oak. If all that wasn’t enough, he also finds a way to alienate both his best friends. Plus he must deal with his mixed emotions toward the “hot” dude at the camp, a fellow counselor who keeps sending mixed messages to Russel and Min. When a forest fire encroaches upon the camp, the story takes an exciting twist into adventure. Order of the Poison Oak is the funny, thoughtful, and sometime adventurous sequel to The Geography Club. It deals with what it’s like to be an awkward young teenager looking for acceptance, friendship, and perhaps even love. Peter

  2. 5 out of 5

    LenaRibka

    Audible Charming, funny and smart! I am in love with this series! A must read for all YA-lovers!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nicole (( lost in the book's world ))

    OK! WEB IS HOTTIE but super JERK! So I love this book because it's so CUTE about 10-years old kids who have burn scar... Everything, the plotting, are so perfect....I couldn't stop read it. I love it. OK! WEB IS HOTTIE but super JERK! So I love this book because it's so CUTE about 10-years old kids who have burn scar... Everything, the plotting, are so perfect....I couldn't stop read it. I love it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Shrum

    The sequel to Geography Club - a little more spicey. Summer camp brings that out in everyone.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Will Lutes

    I am enjoying the hell outta this series. It's like Harry Potter for us gay boys, except without all the hocus pocus and more male bodies in the mix. Okay, in the spirit of Russel - FULL DISCLOSURE: I fully acknowledge I am terrrrrrrribly late to the Middlebrook party but as they say better late... Oh, to be young and in high school... or in the case of 'Order...' To be young and in charge of camp crazed 10 year old boys whose single goal is to cause as much damage as they can in their wake mixed I am enjoying the hell outta this series. It's like Harry Potter for us gay boys, except without all the hocus pocus and more male bodies in the mix. Okay, in the spirit of Russel - FULL DISCLOSURE: I fully acknowledge I am terrrrrrrribly late to the Middlebrook party but as they say better late... Oh, to be young and in high school... or in the case of 'Order...' To be young and in charge of camp crazed 10 year old boys whose single goal is to cause as much damage as they can in their wake mixed with hunky flirty (not to mention slutty) boy toy and Russel's summer should be set, right? What could possibly go wrong? How about losing not just one, but maybe two of your best friends, nearly making out with previously stated slutty boy (no matter how hot or well-equipped he is), nearly losing your life and still finding the boy of your dreams who is right in front of you the whole time? Yeah, that'll make a great essay for school when you return. Another brilliant entry in the Middlebrook series. With my days of high school drama long behind me (we're talking back when cell phones were nearly as big as airstream trailers here, folks) this book made me sorta bittersweetly recall those scary, sometimes rapturous (though few and far between - not too unlike the protagonist) yet, still trying to keep a sense of humor (sometimes failing miserably - but that's what life is learning from mistakes and boy is Russel a magnet for that)!! Who benefits from all that? We readers. of course! I won't expound on why Russel is a gem of a character, suffice to say read these books! Gay, straight, questioning, who cares... these books are great moralistic stories wrapped in humorous wit candy with naked boy bodies inferred (and sometimes explicit) thrown in for good measure... who wouldn't want to read that?! (Another full disclosure: I am not being perverted here, just recalling my teen years and how much I would've enjoyed hearing someone who I could identify with...would have made the lonelier days less lonely). Another great work. Do yourself a favor and read it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Coenraad

    Having blitzes through Geography Club, I couldn't get into the other Russel Middlebrook books fast enough. In this second installment, Russel is tired of being the Out Gay Kid at school and jumps at the chance to become a camp counsellor during the summer break. His best friends Min and Gunnar are going too - what could be better? Well, not messing up your friendships for one! Anyway, all's well that ends well in this genre of story where the main character(s) must work through issues about growi Having blitzes through Geography Club, I couldn't get into the other Russel Middlebrook books fast enough. In this second installment, Russel is tired of being the Out Gay Kid at school and jumps at the chance to become a camp counsellor during the summer break. His best friends Min and Gunnar are going too - what could be better? Well, not messing up your friendships for one! Anyway, all's well that ends well in this genre of story where the main character(s) must work through issues about growing up and being human, but in a lighthearted, fun-ensuring way. I considered 'punishing' the book with fewer than five stars because of its preachiness (the first batch of campers are burn survivors and how to deal with them is an important element). But Russel's sincerity is too heart-warming, his ability to ride the tsunami-like waves of teenage emotion is too beautiful, and the humorous style with its little quirky bits directed at the audience is too endearing. And then there is the lovely Otto. And some heroism for good measure. So: full marks again. Brent Hartinger has really created a wonderful character and an interesting ecology for him - the fact that there is a series proves the richness of the creation. Hoewel elemente van hierdie Russel Middlebrook-storie prekerig mag voorkom, is die karakters net té hartlik, die gebeure té vermaaklik en die vloedgolwe tieneremosie net té oortuigend om bitterbek te wees. Volpunte!

  7. 4 out of 5

    elissa

    Well done sequel to Geograpy Club. I liked them both about equally.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna Ledwin

    guess who just read this whole book in one sitting at her colleges dining hall??? me!!! and I have No Chill!!!! I loved the geography club so much so I decided to BUY!!!! (ME, BUYING A BOOK BEFORE IVE READ IT!!!) the order of the poison oak. I was so not disappointed. in fact, it's on the same level or possibly even BETTER than the first novel, which rarely happens in series good ol Russel back at it again with the strikingly genuine authenticity that taps directly into the center of my heart. the guess who just read this whole book in one sitting at her colleges dining hall??? me!!! and I have No Chill!!!! I loved the geography club so much so I decided to BUY!!!! (ME, BUYING A BOOK BEFORE IVE READ IT!!!) the order of the poison oak. I was so not disappointed. in fact, it's on the same level or possibly even BETTER than the first novel, which rarely happens in series good ol Russel back at it again with the strikingly genuine authenticity that taps directly into the center of my heart. the best part is you Know that he's telling a story-- the book isn't just stream of consciousness and sometimes he tells the audience he's omitting things-- yet he keeps those not so appropriate/pc thoughts in the story. and by the end he comes to completely overlook people's appearances, and not out of rudeness, but out of love for who they are as people, god imma cry Russel does a lot of growing up in this novel. he makes mistakes and he Knows that he's made them, but the best part is that he always acknowledges his flaws and tries to be a better person, for his sake and the sake of all of those whom his actions affect. (spoiler: the rainbow crow story was amazing and, like Otto and the campers, I was so incredibly touched and I fell more platonically head over heels for Russel-- idk how that's even POSSIBLE bc I loved him so much already but w/e) the new characters in the book were great too!!! Otto oh my god like we didn't learn that much about him but I know he's gonna show up/be relevant in future novels and I'm so ready. seeing how Russel's perception of him changed throughout the book was so interesting and beautiful. Em is a lil quirky but I think we'd be friends irl. Min and Gunner made a come back and, while their relationship w Russel was rocky the whole book, I'm glad they were all together and learned about life through each other. and the fucking first weeks kids!!! god they went from so horrible to so good so fast!! it's honestly so true that you can't really accurately judge a person until you get to know them. It was intriguing to see Russel and Ian's relationship develop and change and (spoiler: see how great their relationship was by the end. Ian wanted to get another poison oak leaf to remember camp and the Order I'm not crying you're crying 😭😭). but yes this sequel was just as amazing as the first book and I think this series is gonna ruin my college career because all I wanna do now is read these books. thank you hartinger for writing them, they are truly life changing

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    'Sup, dudes? I really don't like YA novels. I'm past the age where I really remember, or much care about, the trials and tribulations of the high school social network. Fortunately, that doesn't really matter, because Brent Hartinger has conceived of a character so charming and pleasurable to get to know that it's an unalloyed pleasure revisiting *shudder* my sophomore year and its intricate horrors. Meet Russel Middlebrook. Russel is sixteen. He knows he's gay. His Internet chat buddies know as 'Sup, dudes? I really don't like YA novels. I'm past the age where I really remember, or much care about, the trials and tribulations of the high school social network. Fortunately, that doesn't really matter, because Brent Hartinger has conceived of a character so charming and pleasurable to get to know that it's an unalloyed pleasure revisiting *shudder* my sophomore year and its intricate horrors. Meet Russel Middlebrook. Russel is sixteen. He knows he's gay. His Internet chat buddies know as well. The problem is that the not-so-understanding students of Robert L. Goodkind High School may be about to discover that gay thingy as well. In Geography Club and The Order of the Poison Oak, Russel, along with his best (straight) friend Gunnar, and their pal, the very bisexual Min, navigate the hazards of coming to terms with Russel's being gay vis-à-vis high school (Geography Club) and in the wide-open world of sleepover summer camp counselling (The Order of the Poison Oak.) Each story is elegantly simple, and totally straightforward. What takes place in each short novel (~250 page each) can be gathered from the summaries above. It's getting to know the totally lovable Russel, and his winsome buds, that makes this a series to settle-in with. I was hooked on the first page (of the second novel in the series.) I read the first two books in the series in reverse order. It really doesn't matter, because each book stands firmly on its own. Besides it's all in the getting-to-know anyway. The stories are extremely simple. I would guess that they are aimed at the fourteen to sixteen year-old reader; but that's not to say there was nothing there for this jaded old reader. I wouldn't be be bothering with this review, and the series, if there weren't. Russel is very straightforward in his attempts to understand social and sexual politics in the cloistered worlds of academe, and as a counselor at overnight summer camp. His attempts to deal with his sexuality, as it relates to life, is the series' driving force. Then there's the somewhat bemused Gunnar's attempt to get a girlfriend, or a dog. He will settle for either, or both. (Although he would definitely prefer the girlfriend.) Intervening Fate seems to be making Gunnar's search a series of enchanting pratfalls. Min is whip-smart, attractive and open to suitors of either sex. It's these three, and their satellites, that formed the true basis of attraction for this reader. The stories are attractively easy to get through, but it's the genuine sweetness and winsome nature of this troika of pals that will draw me through the entire series. This isn't Updike by any stretch, and that's such a relief! Every so often it's nice to sit down with some people you wish were your nieces or nephews, and just sympathize with their struggles with life, love and the whole damned thing. Pick up either of these two one-day reads, and enjoy a break from the tsuris that accompanies so much of the rest of m/m romance fiction. Dude, you will be so totally glad you settled-in for the mad round that makes life with Russel and his mates fascinating and fun to follow. The series, thus far, has been a total joy to read. I hope you like it as much as I have. Oh, and Russel's retelling of an old American Indian legend, first as truth, then twisted into fiction, had me crying like a 14 year-old girl who just heard that Justin Bieber had gotten married.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    another good book from brent hartinger, aimed at teens. this is the second in the russel middlebrook books. the first being geography club russel is gay and out at school, and its been hard. he just wants a summer away from it. away from everyone knowing and the whispers in a place where being gay isnt all he is known for (there are times when even at 40+ i can relate to that.) so russel decides that summer camp as a camp councelor is just the right idea. But the first two weeks of camp, well if i another good book from brent hartinger, aimed at teens. this is the second in the russel middlebrook books. the first being geography club russel is gay and out at school, and its been hard. he just wants a summer away from it. away from everyone knowing and the whispers in a place where being gay isnt all he is known for (there are times when even at 40+ i can relate to that.) so russel decides that summer camp as a camp councelor is just the right idea. But the first two weeks of camp, well if i told you every thing you wouldnt need to read the book would you. This is not a book aimed at adults so dont expect adult content. but I enjoyed the book and made a conection to the characters. maybe I should just class myself as a slightly late teen Geography ClubGeography ClubGeography Club

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nick Almand

    As much as I enjoyed "The Geography Club", I have to say I found "The Order of the Poison Oak" to be an even more enjoyable story. After introducing the cast and the school setting in the first Russel Middlebrook novel, this one builds from its foundations and takes off in a new direction quite brilliantly! Without getting into any spoilers, you really get a deeper understanding of Russ's character when you see him thrust into an unfamiliar (and often intensely uncomfortable) situation. Russ is n As much as I enjoyed "The Geography Club", I have to say I found "The Order of the Poison Oak" to be an even more enjoyable story. After introducing the cast and the school setting in the first Russel Middlebrook novel, this one builds from its foundations and takes off in a new direction quite brilliantly! Without getting into any spoilers, you really get a deeper understanding of Russ's character when you see him thrust into an unfamiliar (and often intensely uncomfortable) situation. Russ is not a perfect character by any means, and it was the process of watching him struggle to redeem himself after doing the wrong things that made the most compelling moments of the narrative. All in all, I'd recommend this book to anyone who read and enjoyed the first book in the series, and anyone who wants to read a good summer camp story. The romantic elements don't crowd the plot out by any stretch of the imagination, but they're quite a lot of fun and affect the story just as much as such interests tend to affect teenagers. ^^ I just bought the 3rd book for my iPhone, so I'll certainly leave a review of that one once I've finished it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    Russel's commentaries throughout the book are some of the funniest material I have ever read. If one can appreciate J.D. on Scrubs, Russ will knock your socks off. Hartinger again mixes humor and serious issues into gold, something the Alchemists would be highly envious of. That being said, I found the connection between being outcast for a physical deformity and being an outcast for being gay totally erroneous. One cannot create a connection between a person that went through a traumatic event Russel's commentaries throughout the book are some of the funniest material I have ever read. If one can appreciate J.D. on Scrubs, Russ will knock your socks off. Hartinger again mixes humor and serious issues into gold, something the Alchemists would be highly envious of. That being said, I found the connection between being outcast for a physical deformity and being an outcast for being gay totally erroneous. One cannot create a connection between a person that went through a traumatic event and was scarred by it to someone who can, presumably at least, conceal a personality difference from the rest of the world. I wouldn't say they are no parallels whatsoever as some critics have (though I have little room to speak as I don't know much of burn survivors), but I felt it oversimplified even for a young adult novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Post

    As soon as I was finished with Geography Club I picked this one up :) I wish it had been longer haha Otto! I fell in love with Otto! I wish their encounter had been different :) spoiler alert! Sorry haha but this book was AMAZING!!! I hope there's a trilogy in the making :) I can't get enough of Russell ha his life is truly wonderful. As soon as I was finished with Geography Club I picked this one up :) I wish it had been longer haha Otto! I fell in love with Otto! I wish their encounter had been different :) spoiler alert! Sorry haha but this book was AMAZING!!! I hope there's a trilogy in the making :) I can't get enough of Russell ha his life is truly wonderful.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    funny, love the main character

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    even better than the first!

  16. 5 out of 5

    madeleinepond

    It hardly happens that a sequel is better than the first book. Geography Club was good, but I found this one much better. Maybe I'm just sinking into the series. There is also something about the summer camp that brings me back to childhood, and being that mischievous kid along with my friends making life unbearable for the young counselors, very relatable. The idea of the kids being burn surviors made it that much more interesting and I liked Russel's primary struggle not to be discriminatory w It hardly happens that a sequel is better than the first book. Geography Club was good, but I found this one much better. Maybe I'm just sinking into the series. There is also something about the summer camp that brings me back to childhood, and being that mischievous kid along with my friends making life unbearable for the young counselors, very relatable. The idea of the kids being burn surviors made it that much more interesting and I liked Russel's primary struggle not to be discriminatory which was sort of a perfect reference to his own situation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Just reread this book and it hasn't lost any of its mystique. In a bid to try and get away from a tumultuous year of high school Russel accepts an offer from his friend Gunnar for a summer of being camp counselors along with their other friend Min. The first session of kids are all burn survivors but are still kids so it turns into a Summer of corralling unruly kids, twilight rendezvous with the drop dead gorgeous fellow counselor Web, and trying no to piss off his best friends (anymore than he Just reread this book and it hasn't lost any of its mystique. In a bid to try and get away from a tumultuous year of high school Russel accepts an offer from his friend Gunnar for a summer of being camp counselors along with their other friend Min. The first session of kids are all burn survivors but are still kids so it turns into a Summer of corralling unruly kids, twilight rendezvous with the drop dead gorgeous fellow counselor Web, and trying no to piss off his best friends (anymore than he already has).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Idit Bourla

    wowowow so cute I love these books!! I also loved it more than book #1. I don't have much to say, this is really perfect and everyone who loved Geography Club would be crazy about this! If there's any reason why not love it? effing bloody MIN bloody go to hell. I hate that girl so much But she's not important, just ignore her. Otherwise, perfect and can't wait to book #3! wowowow so cute I love these books!! I also loved it more than book #1. I don't have much to say, this is really perfect and everyone who loved Geography Club would be crazy about this! If there's any reason why not love it? effing bloody MIN bloody go to hell. I hate that girl so much But she's not important, just ignore her. Otherwise, perfect and can't wait to book #3!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Tews

    *DNF* There's a certain line that stopped me dead in my tracks and I will not be continuing with this book or any other book by this author. Something to the effect of "he looked at me like he either didn't hear me or was ausistic". People on the AS are not the butt of some joke that is not remotely funny, and I am absolutely not okay with it. I don't care if it's Russel himself who is ignorant, I just can't. DISGUSTING. *DNF* There's a certain line that stopped me dead in my tracks and I will not be continuing with this book or any other book by this author. Something to the effect of "he looked at me like he either didn't hear me or was ausistic". People on the AS are not the butt of some joke that is not remotely funny, and I am absolutely not okay with it. I don't care if it's Russel himself who is ignorant, I just can't. DISGUSTING.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Evan Knudson

    This book was completely heart warming. Russel is witty and fun as always and as usual his narrative is beyond adorable. I love his heart and his entire being, which we finally start to see in this book. Though I personally didn't enjoy geography club I found this one absolutely engrossing. You can tell that Brent is refining his craft, especially when you see Russel's development and his engrossing, fun thoughts. I give this 5 stars because it's awesome! This book was completely heart warming. Russel is witty and fun as always and as usual his narrative is beyond adorable. I love his heart and his entire being, which we finally start to see in this book. Though I personally didn't enjoy geography club I found this one absolutely engrossing. You can tell that Brent is refining his craft, especially when you see Russel's development and his engrossing, fun thoughts. I give this 5 stars because it's awesome!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Milton Almará

    I loved the romantic part of this book and I wish it had been part of the first one cause Otto rocks man. The rest of it seemed flat and meaningless except the order of the poison oak, which was my favorite moment in the story. I don't understand why russell and his friends are so shitty towards each other. Try working on a friend-code geez! Overall it was a good story, it can become boring but when the drama unfolds it gets better. I loved the romantic part of this book and I wish it had been part of the first one cause Otto rocks man. The rest of it seemed flat and meaningless except the order of the poison oak, which was my favorite moment in the story. I don't understand why russell and his friends are so shitty towards each other. Try working on a friend-code geez! Overall it was a good story, it can become boring but when the drama unfolds it gets better.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I like the premise – this book is an extension of the Geography Club. Delightful characters, fun story line, a coming of age story The main protagonist is wonderful, although flawed he is mostly human, and for a teenager, that’s pretty much the best you can get. I enjoyed the entire series, read them in order for best results. It’s a PG-13 book, probably safe for most.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jimbo

    This story was more interesting because of the added group of burn survivors at the ripe age of ten-years old. I thought that Hartinger did a great job with taking Russel through what people go through when they meet others that don't look like themselves or who are not like them in other ways. The Order of the Poisoned Oak was a clever and touching idea and it work beautifully in this book. This story was more interesting because of the added group of burn survivors at the ripe age of ten-years old. I thought that Hartinger did a great job with taking Russel through what people go through when they meet others that don't look like themselves or who are not like them in other ways. The Order of the Poisoned Oak was a clever and touching idea and it work beautifully in this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roger Hyttinen

    The Russel Middlebrook Series Continues Last week, I posted about The Geography Club book and movie by Brent Hartinger, and about how much I loved it. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there are now a series of books featuring Russel. So I snatched up the second one in the series: The Order of the Poison Oak and read it in one sitting. Though this book is geared towards Young Adults, I feel that this is a book that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age. As with The Geography Club, I found i The Russel Middlebrook Series Continues Last week, I posted about The Geography Club book and movie by Brent Hartinger, and about how much I loved it. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there are now a series of books featuring Russel. So I snatched up the second one in the series: The Order of the Poison Oak and read it in one sitting. Though this book is geared towards Young Adults, I feel that this is a book that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age. As with The Geography Club, I found it an excellent read. School’s Tough (Geography Club spoilers below)
At the end of the last book, Russel, who just joined the Gay/Straight Alliance group at school, is outed to the entire school. In the beginning of The Order of the Poison Oak, things are not easy for our hero at Robert L. Goodkind High. Told through the perspective of Russel, we learn that he is the brunt of anti-gay slurs, gets his locker defaced on a regular basis and receives anonymous bullying e-mails. In regards to the old “Sticks and Stones adage, he writes: ”..did it ever occur to whoever wrote that stupid adage that hurtful words might be a pretty good indication that stick and stones are on the way?” When his friend Gunnar asks Russel if he’d be interested in being a counselor at summer camp with him and their friend Min, Russel jumps at the chance. The idea of being somewhere where nobody knows about him sounds pretty good to him. So off they go to... Summer CampRussel, Min and Gunnar arrive at Camp Serenity where they’ll be spending the rest of the summer. During an orientation meeting, Russel notices fellow counselor and strikingly handsome Web, who, as Russel describes him, “was much prettier than any postcard.” When the camp director pairs up counselors who will be working together, Russel plans on working it so he’ll be paired up with hunky Web but to his surprise and dismay, his friend Min cuts him off and pairs herself with Web. Later on, an argument ensues as to whether Web is gay or straight? Russel takes this as a challenge. So who gets him? Ah, but you’ll have to read the book to find out. Monsters and Hellions and Brats, Oh My The counselor gig turns out to be much more challenging that Russel had originally thought. The first group of kids who will spend two weeks at camp are disfigured burn survivors and the counselors are given two days of Burn Survivor Sensitivity Training to prepare them. But nothing could prepare Russel for the cabin full of 10-year-old monsters for whom he is to be responsible for the next couple of weeks. They refuse to listen to him and defy him at every opportunity. To make matters worse, it appears it is only Russel who has unruly kids – everyone else’s seem to be fairly well-behaved. Russel finally gains control and the respect of his kids, only to lose it later on through a careless inaction on his part. But he does end up redeeming himself later on through a delightful story he tells the kids and the “secret order” that develops from that story. This was an especially touching and heartfelt section of the book which made me like Russel all the more. Love on the Rocks… Russel develops a relationship with someone at camp, only to realize later that it is someone else that he had fallen in love with – he just doesn’t see it at first. Min’s relationship falls apart as well because of Russel’s actions and for a good portion of the book, the two are not on speaking terms. And Gunnar? Well, he decides that he is not going to date anyone at all and declares that he has completely given up on girls. A couple of embarrassing yet comical mishaps (ie. Gunnar tripping on a fish in front of the girl who like him) entrenches his decision even further. Funny that…it seems that love tends to find us especially when we try with all our might to push it away. At one point, things look pretty bleak for Russel, Min and Gunnar. But eventually, it all comes together (well, for most of them). Learning and Growing This is one of those books where the reader feels as though he or she is on an emotional roller-coaster – at times I was laughing, at times I teared up; at other times I cringed, while a few times I was angry – all of which indicates a story well told. While Russel certainly does his fair share of screwing up, he also learns and grows throughout the story and is a much different person at the end than he was on Page 1. Through his mistakes, he learns the importance of doing the “right thing” and ends up discovering that we are all special and unique, no matter what our outward appearance or how hard we think we have conformed. I found the characters to be well-developed and for me, they really came to life throughout this book. For me personally, this story brought back  fond memories of the many summers that I spent as a 4-H camp counselor. The Order of the Poison Oak contains all of the things that makes a story great: adventure, struggle, friendship, redemption and yes, even romance – and is an exquisite addition to the YA/LGBT genre. I look forward to reading the next book in the series.   Recommended!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcos

    I was expecting more. Maybe I was expecting something with Kevin, but not. Not in this book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alysia

    no wear near as good as the first but i'll probably still read the next one... no wear near as good as the first but i'll probably still read the next one...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Light-hearted and fun to read, a good sequel to Geography Club.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Orth

    Love the development and where the narrator/main character progressed from the first book. Looking forward to reading the third in the series!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey G

    I liked this book, but it wasn't as good as the first book in the series. The subject matter was not as interesting. I liked this book, but it wasn't as good as the first book in the series. The subject matter was not as interesting.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Farrah

    Fun YA read. Looking forward to more Russel-Middlebrook stories just for fun..

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