Cover Image: How to Be Remy Cameron

How to Be Remy Cameron

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Member Reviews

Remy Cameron comes with a long list of labels and from the beginning, the core of what he's trying to understand is that if he's not a sum of his parts, who is he?

Great question.

Julian Winters does a bang-up job hosting the journey of Remy's discovery. He also puts Remy into some questionable circumstances in which a reader gets a look at any number of microaggressions over and above the overwhelming circumstances that come with simply being a teenager.

On the con side, there are a number of pop references that are used as shortcuts to sharing Remy's experience, which isn't entirely successful. Add to that the subtly patronizing voice of an adult author who seems to nudge Remy into making the decisions he would have made with the benefit of hindsight. In other words, he's a careful character who sometimes lacks agency...which results in a slightly weaker story.

Nevertheless, it's good. It's better than good. It's simply charming and wonderful.

And I'm so glad I got to read it.
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Winters produces another excellent main character in his sophmore novel, How to Be Remy Cameron. As consistently charming as Running with Lions, Winters produces a vivid snapshot into the life of Remy Cameron as the titular character faces the question of who he is and what it means to be himself.
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There are not enough words to describe the way I feel about Jullian Winters writing. I fell in love with running with lions and How to be Remy Cameron did not disappoint. Winters writes stories that need to be told with perspectives that are heart wrenching, compelling, and so relatable. Can't wait to read more from him! Also Remy, what a lovable character, flaws and all!
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4/5 Stars

Julian Winters' second novel How to Be Remy Cameron is a wonderful story. It's quiet with mostly internal struggle but Remy's such a joy to read about. With supportive friends and family and his love of Reese's, it was so easy to turn the pages and fall deeper into this genuine high school tale. I would totally recommend this book and anything Winters' writes.
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*~~*ARC kindly provided from the publisher/author to me for an honest review *~~*

Full review to come

5 stars
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A wonderfully written evocative novel about identity, I love Remy Cameron, and I think you will too. You won’t regret picking this one up. 

I included HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON in the Young Folks list "Book Buying Recommendations for Mood Readers." Here's the link:
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I loved Julian's first book - Running With Lions! And I was so excited to read Julian's next book. And it mostly didn't disappoint! I loved that we saw a narrative from the point of view of Remy, an adopted child, and the story did not involve around him figuring out his sexuality - he already figured that out for the most part - the conflict in the book has more to do with his sister from his birth mother getting in touch with him and him trying to include her into a part of his established social life. Also, soft queer boys represent! I just love Julian and his characters. The character chemistry between everyone - the family dynamics, Remy's love for his sister, his parents, his doggo - everything is just adorable!
Having said all of this, I did not connect with the book like I did with Running With Lions. And I thoroughly acknowledge that that is because I am not the primary person its meant for. And thats okay. If anything about the main character makes you feel like you relate with him - i definitely recommend reading this book! Or just read it for the soft boi <3
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Overall I just love Julian Winters and was not disappointed by this one. Remy is a very likeable protagonist and his story is so full of both humor and heart. One of those wholesome reads that I would recommend to queer teens (or anyone, really).
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This is definitely a book that will make young people think. It will get them thinking about who they are as a person just as Remy does throughout the book and the impact and influence they have on those around them. It will get them thinking about what future lies ahead of them and how they will handle what comes.. This book is more character focused on Remy rather than piled with plot but the writing style suits that type of story more and it done perfectly. This book needs to be in school libraries for all teens and other young adults to read, no matter if they are struggling with their own identity but to also learn what other people go through.
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I know this is coming three months late, but I tried picking this up and while it wasn't poorly written, I was never ever to engage with the book on a level that really pulled me in.
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I read and enjoyed Winters’ debut, Running With Lions, so I was excited to check out How to Be Remy Cameron. I loved this YA novel. Remy isn’t sure who he is – he’s gay, black, adopted, a friend, an ex-boyfriend. I liked that Remy is obviously not perfect, but he tries his best. You want to root for him. It’s not easy being a teenager, let alone one who came out at 14 and is the only black kid in his white family. Despite not having all the same experiences as Remy did growing up, it was easy to relate to him and I think this is a book that many should read, teen or not.
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I really enjoyed a great many things about this book. Characters were fleshed out and the plot was well spaced. Some of the secondary storylines could've used a bit more page space but all in all an enjoyable read!
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I don't think there's a way to recommend this book enough. How to Be Remy Cameron is one of those books that makes you fall in love with every character. Everything was on point, from the sibling relationship, to the friendships, to the doubt Remy has about where he fits in when an assignment makes him start looking at himself introspectively. I loved Remy so much. Not only did I buy this for the library, I bought my own copy and then purchased the author's other books. Julian Winters is one to watch!
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*ARC provided by Netgalley in return for an honest review* 

I am very, very late reviewing this book and I feel so bad about it! This book is my first from Julian Winters and I did fall in love with it. Many of the minor characters felt fleshed out unlike many YA books I have read. I was amazed whenever I looked at how far I had already read because I was speeding through this book. It was a fun, thoughtful read on what it is like to try and figure out who you are as a person in a world that makes that quite hard to accomplish. I would recommend this for all who want a YA book that feels like a light read while also making you think quite a bit.
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A very interesting core concept that goes beyond your standard YA read - definitely would recommend for those tiring of the standard titles and wishing to explore something a fresh take of old cliches.
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Julian Winters has outdone himself. This book is a masterpiece of what it means to be at the intersection of several labels, and what impact that has on who we are, and how we think of ourselves.
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How To Be Remy Cameron is Julian Winters's second novel and it explores identity, adoption, and how awkward new love can be.

Remy is one of a few openly gay students at his high school and one of 5 Black students. Additionally, he was adopted by white parents and doesn’t know much about his birth parents, despite it being an open adoption. The story examines transracial adoption in some really interesting and nuanced ways. I cringed when I read that Remy found out he was adopted when he was in kindergarten after a kid told him his family drawing was wrong because he couldn’t be brown and have parents who were peach. I would love to read more YA stories of Black children adopted by white parents because I know quite a few families like this and it would be great to point them and their kids to books like this.

Remy is figuring out exactly who he is. In part, because that’s the internal work of every teenager. But also because it’s his assignment for his AP Literature class and he feels like he has a lot riding on his essay. This brought me back to those days: how small things felt like the highest of stakes, the confusion about where I belonged, and so on. Remy has more layers of confusion than I did because of his marginalization. He may have a great group of friends and get along with most people at school but he has a lot of questions about where he fits in and why.

Out of nowhere he’s contacted by his half-sister…but he didn’t even know he had a half-sister. Getting to know Free gives him the opportunity to learn about his birth parents but he’s not sure he wants to. Nor is he sure how or what to tell his parents.

Add in one crush on Ian, a former classmate who is now back in town, and you can see just why Remy feels a bit stressed these days. They could be so sweetly awkward together and I absolutely loved it. Ian isn’t out and this limits Remy in what he can tell other people about Ian, no matter how many people ask about his crush. I really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship.

The side characters were absolutely wonderful. Remy’s sister Willow was born when he was 10 and they have such a great dynamic. His best friend’s Lucy and Rio were fantastic and I would absolutely read books devoted to their stories. Brook and Chloe were a fun subversion of the usual high school couple trope, with Chloe as a female quarterback and Brook as a male cheerleader. There is effortless diversity with characters hailing from a number of different backgrounds.

A really solid and enjoyable story. I’m glad it exists in the world.

CW: adoption, past infertility, homophobia, homophobic bullying, racism, divorced parents, underage drinking, brief sexual harassment/racial fetishizing, alcoholism
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Reviewed for Out in Print

The modern-day struggles of black, gay adolescence and cross-cultural adoption are the focal points of Julian Winters’ sweet, gawky high school drama How to Be Remy Cameron.

Seventeen-year-old Remy is not the kind of hero typically seen in contemporary YA. He’s an un-hung-up, popular kid entering his junior year at a public high school in suburban Atlanta, and he happens to have been adopted by a white couple, and he’s black and openly gay.

Unlike gay YA of the past, he’s not up against an unsympathetic world. Unlike most gay YA of the present, he’s not embattled by a search for his first true love, at least not as a primary theme. I wouldn’t categorize Winters’ novel as a “post-gay” or “post-racial” story. It’s a reflection of how identity and diversity have changed for the younger generation.

That’s a standard treatment for modern high school dramas, but what makes Remy’s story different is the narrative approach. There’s no mysterious stranger sending him notes or e-mails who might be Remy’s true love. There’s no surprise gay reveal of a friend or enemy Remy didn’t realize was waiting for him all along. Almost all the drama and conflict occurs between Remy’s ears. An AP English assignment to write an essay that answers the question: who am I? sends him into an identity crisis tailspin, and simultaneously, he must decide whether or not to meet his half-sister Free who reached out to him on Facebook.

Quintessentially adolescent, Remy becomes obsessed by that question of what defines him, and his essay hangs over him as an inscrutable cloud. Is he fated to forever be the guy who got dumped by his first boyfriend because he was too clingy? Does being the president of the school’s GSA make him too gay? Growing up looking different from his parents and younger sister, and as one of five black students at his school, he’s inevitably hyper aware of his blackness, but relating to his black classmates is also a complicated task. Then there’s the big question of whether it was the black birth family who gave him up who made him who he is or was it his white adoptive family?

Throughout Remy’s angsty ruminations, he’s surrounded by a supportive and diverse circle of friends. Winters adds nice touches to Remy’s high school world. The popular couple is the star quarterback and a cheerleader, but the quarterback is the school’s first girl on the team, and she’s Muslim and wears a hijab. The cheerleader is a boy who’s openly bisexual. The cool kids, including Remy, want to be popular but they bemoan corny school traditions and teenage clichés, demanding individuality. The portrayal is solid with some surprises for older readers. High school life has evolved considerably with respect to gender, sexuality and cultural diversity.

A well-handled example of the social challenges that remain is an incident at a party where Remy is propositioned by a white boy who thinks it’s a winning turn-on to gush about how he’s always wanted to be with someone black. Taken from Remy’s perspective, the creepiness and indignity of the encounter comes off with skin-crawling emotion.

Remy’s story is thin on plot, but his journey of self-discovery gains pace and tension when he decides to meet the half-sister he never knew he had. It’s so important to see cross-culturally adopted teens represented in YA, and Winters’ choice to stay in Remy’s head most of the time allows the identity formation challenges therein to be explored rather than glossed over as just another example of the changing modern family.

Would Remy have felt more comfortable in his own skin if he had been raised by his black family? Is he a ‘sell-out’ because he had the advantages of a white, middle class upbringing? Winters wades into those fraught issues fairly deep, though one wishes Remy’s white parents’ “we love you just the way you are” platitudes would have been unpacked a little more. As happens in a lot of YA, taken from a teen’s perspective, the parents lack a bit of dimension. Remy’s adoptive mom and dad are hopelessly uncool and slavishly emotionally available, but we don’t see whether or not they’ve put in the work to raise a child who is culturally different from every member of the family. Given the subject, it feels like an important matter to consider.

On other key issues, Winters’ is meticulous in considering how teenagers can navigate adult situations while minimizing emotional harm. Remy and his emerging love interest ask for consent to hold hands and kiss. He and his friends are exceptionally enlightened regarding gender expression and sexual diversity. Teachers swoop in to correct the few homophobic students in the classroom. It’s a nice reflection of the new world for kids growing up LGBTQ+ in the suburbs.

Remy’s first person, pop culture reference-dropping, excitable and snarky POV will delight hardcore YA fans while eliciting sighs and eyerolls at times from other readers. Nonetheless, his kind, painfully self-conscious personality is irresistibly charming.

A sure winner for fans of Becky Albertalli and David Levithan, and a great book for readers looking for black gay characters in YA.
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This book was a cute addition to LGBT YA. Winters adds a self-defining quest that takes the reader on a heart felt journey.
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remy has an incredibly supportive family, and i just fell head over heels in love with them. i love how his relationship to his parents and sister was handled, with him being adopted, and his whole arc with that. they all love each other so so much, remy’s interactions with his mom and dad almost brought me to tears a few times, and as an older sibling myself, his total adoration of his younger sister, while still thinking she is a little monster, was super fun.

another huge aspect of the story is of course the romance. remy’s love interest, ian, is  korean-mexican american. he used to go to the same school as remy, but moved away a few years ago. now, in their junior year, he is back and very pretty. their romance was so cute it almost killed me. the chemistry was so good, both of them are so soft, especially around each other. i also love that remy’s sister instantly takes a liking to ian, because i will always be here for the trope “sibling and love interest really get along and jokingly gang up on main character”.

the driving force of remy’s journey throughout this novel, however, is his desire to get to know himself. all his life he has used all these labels as a map of himself - Black, gay, adopted, brother, son, to name a few. they have been easy to use to describe himself and hide behind, but when he gets the assignment of Who Are You? he starts realising that he has never really gone deeper than those words. that’s not to say that labels are bad, of course they are not, but remy starts questioning what those words mean and is he enough to be those things and does that mean he has to be a certain way?

i loved reading about remy’s journey to get to know himself a little better, a little deeper. you can probably tell by the title, but how to be remy cameron is very much a character driven novel. it’s so ya. it’s lovely.
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