Cover Image: How to Be Remy Cameron

How to Be Remy Cameron

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Member Reviews

TW: homophobic comments, stereotyping, sexual assault, fetishism

"We have no control over what labels others give us, but we can define who we are by the ones we choose to give ourselves" 

Ahhhhh! Julian Winters has done it again. He's easily becoming one of my favorite authors. This isn't necessarily a big "plot-based" book like "Running for Lions" but his loveable, memorable, relatable and passionate characters and the inspiring writing really makes up for that. It's more about a teenager discovering more about themselves and their place in the world

Remy is facing a lot of pressure to write the best essay---about "who he is"--- for his AP Lit class and he has no idea how to describe himself without using the labels he has been given to him (the Black gay adopted kid). Remy feels the pressure because if he doesn't write an impressive essay, he will lose his chance of getting into his top college. The book really explores whether Remy knows his true self and also how he uses the labels that life already handed him. They're other conflicts that occur in the book such as a cute romance but it's truly about Remy's self-discovery. 

Again, I  ADORED this book. I related to Remy a lot of ways, especially being one of the only black person not just at school but also at home. The relationship he has with his family is just wholesome but imperfect.  Remy has a corny dad, a bright mom, a curious sister and he has a special relationship with each one of them. I always worry when authors write about adoptive children/teens because they almost always make it a tragic story or make the main character feel out of place but Winters created healthy relationships, without shying away some of the difficulties. There's a scene in the book with his mom that brought tears to my eyes (I rarely cry while reading) and Winters really knows how to pull a reader's heartstrings. 

I love when contemporaries put a big emphasis on the friend group and this one gets it done. Winters almost focuses a lot more on the friend group than the romance but I did not mind that at all. They are all different, are not complete stereotypes and all are supportive with one another.  The romance was also very cute and soft. The love interest isn't completely out but Remy wasn't at all annoyed with him taking his time out of the closet.

Conversations about stereotypes are also relevant in this book. Winters discusses religious, black, gay and gendered stereotypes in a productive way. What I often find in a lot of books today is authors invalidating religion. As a person who is not at all religious, I didn't mind this as much but this book changed my view. We have characters who are religious but still believe in a higher power and the book discusses why it's important to not completely invalidate religion (even Christianity/catholicism). People find a lot of comfort in believing in higher powers and I believe it's important to depict the notion in a healthy way which Winters definitely does. 


No, this book isn't perfect. I got a tad bit annoyed with Remy because he kept mentioning his boner every chapter but I still loved this book nonetheless. The book proclaims that life is a journey and it's okay to not know everything at the moment or even in the future. Highly recommend!
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I really loved Winters’ debut novel, Runnig With Lions, so I was psyched tog et my hands on How To Be Remy Cameron. I was hoping it would be as good as RWL was....and honestly, it was even better. Remy is a well-developed, multi-layered, relatable character whose struggles to understand his own identity will resonate with pretty much any introspective reader out there. I can’t wait to recommend this book to EVERYONE!
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How To Be Remy Cameron had an interesting premise - a gay, black, adopted teenager trying to answer the question of who is he is and what it means to hold those identities for an essay. Unfortunately I really didn't get on with the writing style of this book. I found it very forced, cliched and unbelievable - essentially like an adult writing snappy teen dialogue. The pace was also too slow for me as it felt like nothing happened plot or character-wise for the first half of the book and I really struggled to keep interested.
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I could not make it through, and I was so incredibly excited about this book, so I'm very sad that I couldn't. The MC's voice is a little irritating and cringey at most times. There's a line that I really wish wasn't in there: "It's cool as eff" or something like that, and it made me have to stare at a wall for a few minutes before continuing. I feel like its a little too colloquial, so I can't take any of it seriously (not even the jokes). There are many, many instances where Remy talks about erections and masturbation (which is okay to have in YA, and I'm glad it's being discussed in YA rather than making it taboo), but the narrative felt like a middle-grade novel, so reading about those things with a middle-grade tone just did not sit well with me, and it felt very out of place and a cheap way at humor. I'm giving this two stars, but I'd prefer not to give it any stars because I DNF'd it, and because I'm not entirely sure if it's me or if its the book. Some readers may find it really enjoyable, and that's fine. I just really did not enjoy any of this.
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It's taken me a few days to decide what I want to say in this review because I am so conflicted. On the one hand, I liked this book. But on the other, I didn't. I know, I know, "how can that be!," you say. You either like something or you don't. And it isn't that simple, not for me when it comes to books. I will discuss what I liked first. I liked the characters and thought their struggles felt believable, especially Remy. I liked the general plot, even if there were a few loose elements. I liked the diversity of the cast. What I didn't like is hard to say because I don't want it to sound like I am personally attacking the author. I just don't like the writing. I didn't like the writing in his first book and I didn't like the writing in this book. I think it is overwrought and I don't like the way he describes things. It's a little cliche. Now, I am an adult with an English degree, so perhaps I am judging a book written for teens too harshly. I don't like the writing, but it is probably perfectly fine for teens. I still think teens could get a lot out of this book.
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I loved this book!  It's such a good story and the self-exploration Remy does is so relatable.  This is one I will be highly recommending to patrons.  I can't wait to have it on our shelves!
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A smart, lovely book. Beautifully paced, with fully realized characters who are revealed to the reader over time with careful attention to detail. Accessible to a wide range of audiences, but never condescends. I loved this book!
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Oops!  I did it again!  I read a coming-of-age book when I know I don’t really like that kind of book.  To be clear, it is rarely, if ever, the author’s fault.  I just need a book with much more tension and conflict in it – conflict beyond “how am I going to write this essay about who I am?!?”  

BUT… that being said, this book had some things about it that I really liked/appreciated.  First and foremost is the positive, almost off-hand, representations of race throughout the story.  “Off-hand” maybe isn’t the right word; I feel like that has a negative connotation, and I don’t mean anything negative by this.  But I appreciated that, for a large portion of the book, I couldn’t really remember what race certain characters were because it DID. NOT. MATTER.  Everyone was just friends with others who were different from them.  Not that everyone was whitewashed because there would be comments made – like Ian talking about a favorite food that his Korean grandmother makes – that would remind you of the differences in the characters, but it was just nice to see characters of different backgrounds being friends and that not being the point of the story.  I also appreciated the way that LGBTQIA issues were handled.  Yes, there were one or two characters who made homophobic comments, but they were: a) called out by the teacher as inappropriate, and b) not even really a subplot of the story.  They happened and it was clearly acknowledged that those comments were not okay, but the LGBTQIA characters moved on and ignorant homophobia was, again, not the point of the story.  For the most part, this story celebrated being who you are, whatever that looks like, and finding love and acceptance for yourself.  It really normalized (again, right word?) diversity and sexual identity.

Parts of the book/story that were problematic for me… really, number one was the plot.  But, as I said before, that’s more on me than the author.  The only other issue was this Mad Hatter tagger mystery subplot. Even after the big reveal, I do NOT get why this needed to be a part of the story, other than to give other characters something to do and talk about and to create some sense of mystery.  But, especially after the big reveal, I just don’t get it.  For me, it was more of an annoyance and distraction than positive addition to the plot.

Overall, even though I don’t like coming-of-age stories, I do REALLY like that this was an LGBTQIA coming-of-age story, one that didn’t involve tragedy/violence/death to teach a lesson.  It was the story of a normal teen – a teen who just happened to be black, and gay, and adopted – figuring out who he was and where he fit in this big, crazy world.  We need more of these kinds of stories in YA!
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I wanted to absolutely adore this book, but it still felt a little campy. So many current cultural references that I'm not sure will stand the test of time. Remy is adorable though! I'll still be purchasing this book for my collection.
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Having loved Running With Lions, Julian Winters' debut novel, How to Be Remy Cameron was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. So I was HYPED when I was approved to review an eARC of this novel through Netgalley.

My fate in life, it seems, is to read Julian Winters' books in one sitting, and I'm okay with that. They're just perfect books to read on a rainy (or sunny, because when isn't a great time to read) Saturday afternoon.

Because Remy is different from his peers in a lot of ways, he's often forced to think about how those identities define him. And this increases when he has to write an essay about who he is.

What I especially appreciated about this book, is how incredibly thoughtful it is. There are discussions of what it actually means to be queer, how the allocishet world views queerness, and how those two things are vastly different. There are explorations about what it's like to have been out and sure of yourself for a while, like Remy himself is, or to be new to coming out, like the love interest in this novel. And there's a lot of thought about how you can never really control who others think you are, only what you show the world.

Another important theme in this book is Remy being adopted. He thinks a lot about how this impacts his identity, and what it means to him personally. In the novel, Remy gets to meet his biological half-sister, and this makes him once again re-evaluate what family means. I've definitely read books on adoption before, but I don't think I've ever read one that discussed the topic in such a thoughtful way. I really appreciated this, because while I wasn't adopted myself, my cousin is, and this gave me some additional insight in what her experience might be like. Like Remy, she too has a younger sibling who is their parents' biological child, and I don't think I've ever seen that represented in a book before.

All of this might make it seem like How to Be Remy Cameron is a pretty heavy novel, but it's not at all! It's a very sweet, fast-paced romcom, with a very lovely romance, as well as amazing family relationships. The explorations of what makes up an identity form an extra layer I really loved, though! This novel will likely stay with me for a long time.
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Disclaimer: I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Remy Cameron has sworn off dating. After a bad break up last year, he’s determined that the rest of high school will be about doing all the steps necessary so he can get into Emory. To do this, he needs to do well in AP Lit, but his teacher throws him a curveball the same time life throws him one too in the form of a boy.

In order to pass the semester of AP Lit, Remy has to write an essay about who he is. Suddenly, Remy who is adopted, Black, and gay, doesn’t know quite who he is besides all of the labels that society puts on him. He begins to question all of this while becoming interested in Ian despite swearing that he would not get involved with another boy.

How to Be Remy Cameron is a unique look at how labels can be more harmful and helpful while still being an entertaining story.

Additionally, the novel manages to have a great ensemble cast. While there are some moments of homophobia from a couple of characters, we see teachers and students challenge it on page which is refreshing in respect to the teacher aspect.

How to Be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters releases September 10.
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meh this was fine i guess... if you haven't already read a hundred variations of the same book.

i wasn't that into the author's first book, so maybe i shouldn't have requested an arc of this book, but sometimes i don't love an author's first work, but love their following works.

it's just.. nothing happened until literally about halfway into this book. i was super bored :/

and then even when shit started happening i wasn't super invested because i just didn't click with the writing?

i've read soooo many books questioning the relevancy of labels this year that im just kinda done with the concept, especially when it comes to having to write an essay about Who You Are™. which is just so overdone (very openly straight by bill konigsberg)

anyway this was probably an "it's not you it's me" situation and this review is just "old man yells at cloud".
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I didn't know it was possible, but somehow this book managed to amaze and dazzle me even more than Julian Winters' first novel, Running With Lions. I went into How to Be Remy Cameron with sky-high expectations and came out awed. Remy is a hysterical, relatable main character who deftly navigates through his junior year of high school while exploring his identity outside of the hot button labels YA usually focuses on (such as race and sexuality). 

I cannot say enough about how absolutely perfect this novel was. If Julian Winters continues to produce works like this, I may just have to start holding YA fiction as a whole to higher standards.
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Julian Winters has written an engaging, delightful story that called to my heart from the first pages.

Remy Cameron is a teenager adept with labels. He has several that people have applied to him. He has grown up feeling like an anomaly, different from his peers. Within his circle of friends, he has gathered a core group of kids who are also “othered” by their peers and work together well, but he is still singled out for the color of his skin, his sexuality, and his status as an adopted child in a multi-racial family.

When Remy is asked by a teacher to write an essay about himself- what defines him- Remy must explore those labels in more depth to either own them or discard them. In the process of discovering himself, he discovers a world of love, laughter, and tears on his journey.

This book is for anyone who has ever felt different for something about themselves. Whether you are labeled as old, young, white, black, latinx, gay, bi, trans, fat, skinny, or just “other” in any way, this book will pull you in and resonate within you. In it you will find a reason to cast aside the outside labels and reach within to find out who you really are.  

Highly recommended.
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The review will be posted to Goodreads and on my blog on August 10, 2019

Remy Cameron has to write an essay about “who” he is. There are facts that he knows: he’s a teenager, he loves his little sister, he’s adopted, he’s black and he’s gay. But what really defines him? Is it what he thinks of himself or what other people think of him? And, when it comes right down to it… who does he think he is…because he’s not sure he knows. Labels… there are a lot of labels in the world.

My thoughts bit: This was an enjoyable read and it’s a great book for any young adult.

“There are theories on word vomit. Studies that say the human brain expels so much information that the mouth cannot process and edit said info before it's conveyed verbally. Real scientific stuff.” – Ian in How To Be Remy Cameron

One of the things that’s fantastic about this story is that it’s not based on a big trauma… no life-ending event… no tragedy of epic proportions. Remy is a young gay man trying to figure out who he is. Sure, there’s upset and hurt, there are close calls, and things that are potentially dangerous. But, this book is about a guy trying to figure himself out with his friends, his family, and other people who drift into his life.

The group of friends in this book is beautiful. They are diverse, flawed, a little crazy and sometimes border on epic: in other words, they’re real. And as Remy sums up himself so aptly… there are things going on in everyone’s lives.

“Or maybe it’s because, no matter how close people think they are to each other, there are always things unsaid, always vulnerabilities we don’t feel safe enough to share.” – Remy in How To Be Remy Cameron

Everyone will be able to find something for themselves in this book. It’s about families and how we fit into them, whether they are chosen or by birth. It’s about friendship and falling in love. This book is about being black, not being straight, being adopted, being uncomfortable, and wanting to go to the high school dance. There truly is something for everyone in this book.
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