Book review: How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

Title: How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

Publisher: Duet

Publication date: 10 September 2019

Genre: Contemporary| Young Adult

Page extent: 340 pages

Goodreads blurb: Everyone on campus knows Remy Cameron. He’s the out-and-gay, super-likable guy that people admire for his confidence. The only person who may not know Remy that well is Remy himself. So when he is assigned to write an essay describing himself, he goes on a journey to reconcile the labels that people have attached to him, and get to know the real Remy Cameron.

Content warnings from the eARC: discussions of racism, homophobia, past minor characters’ death, and alcoholism, as well as depictions of homophobic bullying, and a scene involving brief sexual harassment/racial fetishism 

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON!!!!!

How to be Remy Cameron gave me many many feelings when I was approved for an eARC on NetGalley, and then it gave me many many feelings when I read it. 

I was a new blogger, my stats aren’t great, and I had no hope at all I would ever be accepted. And then I was. Cue feelings. The ohmygod how is this happening to me is life actually good feelings.

How to be Remy Cameron is a heartwarming and uninhibited look at what it means to be you, at the pressure of labels, at becoming who you want to be in the world. 

Told from the eyes of Remy, an adopted, black, gay teen, the book follows him as he is given an AP Literature assignment to write an essay about who he is. Remy finds himself under so much pressure to know who he is outside of his labels of ‘adopted’ or ‘black’ or ‘gay’ and wants to be known as someone other than that token kid. But he doesn’t know who he is and can’t get past the pressure he feels to be these labels. 

How to be Remy Cameron is a wonderful look at family and friends and love. Throughout the book, Remy finds himself wondering about his family, about where he came from, how he fits into his adopted family; he questions his friends who seem so put together compared to him; and he questions his feelings as he begins to fall for Ian, the new kid at school. 

The portrayal of both family and friendship in this book is just phenomenal. It really breaks so many stereotypes about what and who makes a family. Remy is such a brilliant older brother, who is so protective and loving with his sister Willow. His parents are supportive and have never made him feel lesser for being adopted (yes! A YA book with an amazing parent relationship where the teen isn’t constantly breaking rules and trying to get away from them!)

The romance is just as great – Remy has recently been in a bad break-up, and swears off men. Of course, immediately enter attractive, glasses-wearing Ian who drinks matcha coffee and draws brilliant art. The romance doesn’t feel rushed or hurried and plays out beautifully. 

I also really enjoyed all the pop culture references. I go back and forth on whether I like this in books, but it didn’t feel overused here, and it often made me snort with laughter, so Winters nailed the pop culture referencing! 

There are definitely moments in this book which tug at your heart, but it’s not a sad book. It’s happy and uplifting and a beautifully diverse YA which showcases the variety of labels and stereotypes and really makes you wonder about who you are.

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

P.S. I’d like Remy’s wardrobe please and thank you. 

2 thoughts on “Book review: How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

  1. […] How to Be Remy Cameron was I think my first “approved” ARC request on NetGalley (not a Read Now one), so it holds a very special place in my heart for that alone! It is a very heartwarming coming-of-age story, about the pressure of labels and identity, with adopted, Black, gay lead, Remy, who wants to be known as someone outside of those labels. This book is full of pop culture references that are actually done well, it has a sweet love interest who appears just as Remy signs off men for good, and really lovely, supportive parents which we really need more of in YA. Also Remy’s wardrobe is killer and I really wish I had it. Check out my full review here. […]

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