Review: Cam Girl by Leah Raeder



Vada Bergen is broke, the black sheep of her family, and moving a thousand miles away from home for grad school, but she’s got the two things she loves most: her art and her best friend—and sometimes more—Ellis Carraway. Ellis and Vada have a friendship so consuming it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins. It’s intense. It’s a little codependent. And nothing can tear them apart.

Until an accident on an icy winter road changes everything.

Vada is left deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. Her once-promising art career is cut short. And Ellis pulls away, unwilling to talk about that night. Everything Vada loved is gone.

She’s got nothing left to lose.

So when she meets some smooth-talking entrepreneurs who offer to set her up as a cam girl, she can’t say no. All Vada has to do is spend a couple hours each night stripping on webcam, and the “tips” come pouring in.

It’s just a kinky escape from reality until a client gets serious. “Blue” is mysterious, alluring, and more interested in Vada’s life than her body. Online, they chat intimately. Blue helps her heal. And he pays well, but he wants her all to himself. No more cam shows. It’s an easy decision: she’s starting to fall for him. But the steamier it gets, the more she craves the real man behind the keyboard. So Vada pops the question:

Can we meet IRL?

Blue agrees, on one condition. A condition that brings back a ghost from her past. Now Vada must confront the devastating secrets she’s been running from—those of others, and those she’s been keeping from herself…


After reading Black Iris I imagined that this would have been somehow on the same line, so I was kind of prepared for the darkness that pervades this book. This is all about the darkest parts of our heart, those parts that we don’t even know we have.

If two people could make each other smile and laugh and forget all the pain and darkness in the world for a moment, why should we feel ashamed of it?

Cam Girl deals with a lot of issues,  and I think Leah Raeder perfectly managed to get her points across to the reader. The main character, Vada, is an artist but after an accident she can barely control her hand, let alone draw. That coupled with other issues with her family and her best friend, Ellis, who isn’t properly just a friend, make her hit the lowest point of her life. And that’s when she meet someone who introduces her to camming.

I sketched her hands a thousand times in my notebooks, and in my dreams her hands sketched my skin a thousand more.

I had specific opinions on camming, and other form of sex-trade, but we see a different side of the issue in this book. For Vada camming is a way of taking control; she can control who sees her and how they see her and her sexuality. But at first it’s more a way to ruin herself. Vada is self-destructive, and Raeder puts no filters on her thoughts; that’s what makes this book so dark. This was probably one of the more authentic, and scary, description of depression I’ve ever read.

You fall in love with it a little. Depression. It’s an abusive romance. It hurts like hell but you don’t want it to stop, because at least hurt is a feeling. At least it reminds you you’re still alive.

Ellis is in love with Vada, but Vada aside from the occasional hook-up, doesn’t want to love a girl. She’s bi, but she wants to meet a guy, fall in love with him, possibly get married and everything else. So when a client starts paying a lot just to talk to her, and he turns out to be the kind of guy she could love, Vada wants to meet him. In the meantime things between Vada and Ellis keep evolving and getting more complicated.

This was the problem with being so close. Friendship became codependence. Codependence consumed. When you possessed every piece of someone’s heart and soul, it was only natural to want the flesh, too. Skin, bone, blood.

I loved finding out how things developed, and there’s also a mystery, linked to the accident, that unfolds one piece at the time. The characters are all interesting, and somehow damaged, and Raeder did a maverlous job of analyzing them. There’s nothing fluffy about this book, even if there are some pretty cute scenes, but they’re definitely outweighed by the darkness.

“Are we okay?” she said. “I don’t know. But this is better than hating you.” “Did you really hate me?” I gazed at her across the couch. “Hate is when you love someone but wish you didn’t.”

This incredible story is delivered with a beautiful writing style. As I said though, it’s dark from the start till the very end, so it’s probably not for everyone.

manuela calloway sisters


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