cover image Camp QUILTBAG


Nicole Melleby and A.J. Sass. Algonquin, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64375-266-2

Via a perceptive dual narrative, Melleby (The Science of Being Angry) and Sass (Ellen Outside the Lines) weave the perspectives of two queer kids drawn together by a need for community. Desperate for friends following the publicizing of her crush on a friend’s mom and subsequent ostracism at her New Jersey Catholic school, 12-year-old lesbian Abigail Rabb wants to attend Minnesota’s Camp QUILTBAG, a two-week program for queer youth. Outside of Minneapolis, nonbinary 13-year-old Kai Lindquist, who uses the pronouns e, em, and eir, isn’t interested in the camp, but eir parents push for it after e experiences bullying, an injury, and the loss of eir best friend. The two couldn’t be more different in interests and motivation—Abigail’s into Jurassic Park and Laura Dern, while Kai’s a “former gymnast-turned-parkour wizard”—but they develop an unlikely alliance when the camp announces a competition: Abigail will help Kai’s cabin win in exchange for confidence lessons. While the contest is meant to bring all the campers together, the duo’s alliance, anxieties, budding romances, and trauma all clash, perhaps compromising further connections. Distilling many relatable experiences and engaging with themes of layered identity, this important story highlights the importance of queer camaraderie and education. Protagonists read as white; campers are portrayed as intersectionally diverse. Ages 8–12. Agents: (for Melleby) Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret; (for Sass) Jordan Hamessley, New Leaf Literary. (Mar.)