Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Order of the Poison Oak, The Hardcover – March 15, 2005

71 customer reviews

See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover, March 15, 2005
$20.63 $0.01

100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
Amazon's editors chose their list of the one hundred young adult books to read, whether you're fourteen or forty...Learn more

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–Sixteen-year-old Russel Middlebrook hopes to escape his identity as the token gay guy at school by spending the summer as a counselor in a camp for burn victims. At first he finds that controlling eight hyperactive, 10-year-old hellions is grueling, but once he charms them with a retelling of a fable based on Native American legend in which a multicolored crow is burnt black by fire, he has no trouble taming them. And with their cooperation and enthusiasm, he creates the Order of the Poison Oak, a special club dedicated to outcasts of all types. With its titillating cover, high dramatics, and steamy romance triangles, Hartinger's novel will definitely score big with teens hankering for a sequel to Geography Club (HarperCollins, 2003). But even with improved characterizations and fast pacing, it's not enough to cloak the author's less-than-subtle attempt at equating burn-scar victims with victims of homophobic bigotry and prejudice. Unfortunately, this well-intended yet domineering metaphor smothers many of the novel's better elements, and ultimately will render more groans than shouts of triumph from its readers.–Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 7-10. In this sequel to Geography Club (2003), 16-year-old Russel, now openly gay and tired of being the freak at school, tries to escape as a counselor in a rural summer camp with his two best friends. The camp kids are 10-year-old burn survivors, scarred and disfigured, and Russel identifies with them. They also have fun together, once he stops seeing them as "all nervous and noble." But Russel fights with his friends, especially after discovering that he and bisexual Min are attracted to the same gorgeous counselor guy--who tries to have unprotected sex with each of them. There's too much metaphor and message, including the stories Russel tells the kids about raging fires, hidden beauty, and developing toughness. What readers will like best is the honest, tender, funny, first-person narrative that brings close what it's like to have a crush and hate a friend. In one unforgettable scene, some teenagers call the scarred kids freaks, and to his lasting shame, Russel says nothing. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 211 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060567309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060567309
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I am Brent Hartinger, and I live to write.

For the last twenty years, I have made my living writing just about everything that involves words.

My latest project is a trilogy of "new adult" novels called Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years. They're about a gay guy in his twenties, Russel Middlebrook, trying to make sense out of love and life.

The books in Russel Middlebrook: The Futon Years are:

* The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know (book #1)
* Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams (book #2)
* The Road to Amazing (book #3)

I wrote previously about this character in a young adult series called the Russel Middlebrook Series. The first book in that series, my 2003 gay teen novel Geography Club, was adapted as a feature film in 2013, starring Scott Bakula, Marin Hinkle, Ana Gasteyer, Justin Deeley, and Nikki Blonsky.

In order, the books in The Russel Middlebrook Series are:

* Geography Club (book #1)
* The Order of the Poison Oak (book #2)
* Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (book #3)
* The Elephant of Surprise (book #4)
* Two Thousand Pounds Per Square Inch (a free short story)

For the record, I try hard to write books that people *like* to read. The most frequent comment I get from readers is that my books are "page-turners," which makes me very happy, because that is exactly what I want them to be. If I had to describe my own books, I would say, "Strong central concept, strong plot, strong character and voice, and usually lots of humor." (I may not always succeed in creating these things, but they're what I always strive for.)

My biggest complaint with books I hate is that they don't get to the point (or, worse, they don't have a point!). I get frustrated that so many books have a cliche or overdone central concept, or that they're all atmosphere and world-building (or "beautiful language," in the case of some literary novels) with no real story.

Basically, I see myself as a storyteller. I think the important thing for a writer is to get out of the way and just tell the damn story.

My second great love is screenwriting and playwriting. I've won lots of screenwriting awards and have several movie projects in very active development.

Meanwhile, my plays have been performed at dozens of theaters. And I adapted Geography Club into a stage play, which has now been produced all over the country.

In addition, I'm the co-host of a bi-weekly podcast, Media Carnivores, which covers media-related news and opinion (and also honest writing advice and updates on my career).

I sometimes teach writing, in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College and elsewhere, and I'm sometimes available as an editor-for-hire.

And I also do a fair bit of charity work, including a brand new enterprise, The Real Story Safe Sex Project, using entertainment and pop culture to help gay teens and twentysomethings fight HIV/AIDS.

I live in Seattle, Washington, with my partner since 1992, Michael Jensen. Michael is also a writer, the author of two terrific gay westerns, Frontiers, and its sequel, Firelands. Together with our friend Sarah Warn, we co-founded a very successful entertainment website called AfterElton.com that was eventually acquired by MTV/Logo (but we don't work there anymore).

I answer all emails, so feel free to contact me through my website: www.brenthartinger.com


My "Official" Biography:

BRENT HARTINGER is the author of many novels, including Geography Club (2003) and six companion books: The Order of the Poison Oak (2005); Double Feature: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies (2007); The Elephant of Surprise (2013); The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know (2014); Barefoot in the City of Broken Dreams (2015), and The Road to Amazing (2016)

His other books include The Last Chance Texaco (2004); Grand & Humble (2006); Project Sweet Life (2008); and Three Truths and a Lie (Simon & Schuster, 2016).

A feature film version of his first novel, Geography Club, was released in November 2013, co-starring Scott Bakula, Ana Gasteyer, and Nikki Blonsky.

Hartinger is also the author of many award-winning screenplays and plays, including a stage adaptation of Geography Club, which has received regional productions in Salt Lake City, Edmonton, and many other places. Three more of his screen projects have been optioned for film and are in various stages of development, including his screenplay of his award-winning play The Starfish Scream.

Mr. Hartinger's many writing honors include being named the winner of the Lambda Literary Award; a GLAAD Media Award; the Scandiuzzi Children's Book Award; and a Book Sense Pick (four times). Screenwriting awards include the Screenwriting in the Sun Award, a Writers Network Fellowship, and first place in the StoryPros, Fresh Voices, Acclaim, and L.A. Comedy Festival screenwriting contests.

Hartinger is the co-host of the Media Carnivores podcast, a sometime-member of the faculty at Vermont College in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and the co-founder of the entertainment website AfterElton.com, which was sold to MTV/Viacom in 2006. In 1990, he co-founded one of the country's first gay youth support groups, in his hometown of Tacoma, Washington. He also founded and currently runs the Real Story Safe Sex Project.

He lives in Seattle with his partner, writer Michael Jensen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Eric Danforth on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Geography Club, the previous book by Brent Hartinger involving gay teen Russell, so when I heard there was going to be a sequel I was really worried(especially since it had the title Order of The Poison Oak, sorry Brent sounded a lil corny), however as I read my copy which I purchased from amazon.com wink wink, I soon realized it was even better than Geography Club. The characters and events just draw you in, and the part when Russell finally has someone look at him in the way that Peppermint Patty looked at the red haired girl, brought tears to my eyes. But this book, even if you are not gay, you will relate to how hard it is growing up and you will be smiling when you finish the book.

P.S. To Brent: Thanks for not including Kevin in this book!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By starchick on November 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Brent Hartinger is funny and tender and real. Although this book (and his others) feature a gay teen, ALL teents and adults who like to read young adult books should read him. No matter your sexual prefernce, you will appreciate his messages of acceptance and understanding and his great writing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Condiment Grrl on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved "The Geography Club," so I had trepidations when I eagerly snatched up the sequel. But they were quickly short-lived as I quickly got involved in the machinations of Russel, Min and Gunnar at a summer camp.

This sequel is a rarity in that the main character actually grows in a new direction from the previous book. Usually, the character just seems to go through the exact same journey. But we see Russel grapple with the whys and hows of expanding his romantic horizons and himself into the outside world from the confines of high school. His relationship with a caddish counselor is very compelling as is Gunnar's journey towards FINALLY getting a girlfriend.

It's a real story well-told. Fast, funny and touching.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lori L. Lake on March 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Russel Middlebrook, a high school student readers last met in the novel GEOGRAPHY CLUB, is near the end of a very traumatic sophomore year. He was outed in the previous book, and he faced up to the ramifications of that, some of which continue on in the form of low-level verbal abuse from other students. "I'd put up with this kind of crap ever since we'd gone public with our Gay-Straight-Bisexual Alliance, and frankly I was getting pretty tired of it. Yeah, yeah, sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me. First of all, anyone who thinks that words can't hurt you has obviously never taken sophomore P.E. And second, did it ever occur to whoever wrote that stupid adage that hurtful words might be a pretty good indication that sticks and stones are on the way?" (p. 2).

From the start, it's clear that Russel has a good sense of humor and that he is strong enough to weather the ups and downs of his newly admitted gay status. But that doesn't mean it's easy, so he is glad that summer arrives, and he is heading off to be a camp counselor with his best friends Min and Gunnar. He figures they'll goof off, swim, play games with kids, and generally have a great time. No one need ever know he's gay. What a surprise to find out how wrong he is!

For the first two-week camp session, Russel is assigned a cabin of ten-year-old boys, all of whom are burn survivors. They go on the rampage almost immediately. At first Russel is inclined to cut them far too much slack because he pities them, but he quickly loses control. Some of the early laughs in the book come from his internal musings about what brats they all are and how helpless he feels trying to keep them in line.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By NC:theothergardenstate on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am dumbfounded by Hazel Rochman's Booklist review here on Amazon where she writes "There's too much metaphor and message, including the stories Russel tells the kids ..." On the contrary, the first scene being referenced is one of the most beautiful in the book. It was set up perfectly, naturally, and I didn't find it "too much," or preachy, or any of that. And that Russel's tales and interactions don't always go well - at all - is just another natural (if sometimes painful) part of his journey.

Being with Russel as he experiences and learns and grows and screws up is a giddy, wonderful ride, and his character is all the more endearing for his humanity. He makes mistakes, sometimes terrible mistakes with his dearest friends, and learns sometimes, and messes up again other times, and opportunities to do the right thing in new circumstances (even if the past can't be fixed) keep coming up. It's a lot like life. Russel continues trying to sort out how to handle his being gay in the teenage landscape, and his struggles and journey were irresistible and very familiar to this gay adult.

I'll add also that I have a minor facial disfigurement (though not from a burn), and from my vantage point, Mr. Hartinger was spot-on understanding the whole dynamic and psychology of the disfigured kids who attended the first session of summer camp. Russel's final conversation with one of the kids before they depart was astonishing, and natural, and it bespoke a level of maturity (minus the heavy, pontificating capital "M") that many so-called "adults" never reach. Yet nothing about it felt out-of-place or precocious or inauthentic. It all fit. It all worked.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews