Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan [LGBT April]

Two Boys Kissing coverTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan 

Published August 27th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers 

Goodreads description: New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other

Confession time: I was actually not all that excited about this book once I learned the exact meaning/premise of  Two Boys Kissing. I am, in general, not a huge fan of world records. To a certain point, they are amusing. But mostly I just think they are pointless. So wen I found out that the book had boys going for the world record of longest kiss recorded (at 32 hours, 12 minutes and 10 seconds For some reason, they have to stand up the whole time. What about kissing means you have to stand up? I’m really confused about that point. People can kiss sitting down, obviously.), my interest level dropped considerably. Why would you want to kiss someone for so long? For your name to be in a big book and maybe you get some sense of achievement or recognition, but it just doesn’t seem that amazing to me. BUT I knew there was more to the story than just the kiss. I’ve seen some amazing reviews and for LGBT month, I knew this was one I should pick up. I’m glad I did, weird world record and all. AND that part of the story is based on actual events that happened in 2010, and I had never heard about it, but it was interesting to find out about after reading the book.

There is so much to say about this book and I don’t feel like I can do it justice at all. It was touching, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. I wanted to know more about the characters, I didn’t feel ready to say goodbye. I actually wasn’t completely sold on the chorus style narration, though I do think it got the point across and added a lot to the story, sometimes it felt distancing for me, which might have been on purpose. I wouldn’t say this is a favorite book, but I enjoyed it and appreciated it. It definitely made me cry on several occasions, but it also made me smile and want to hug it.

Since I don’t really know how to eloquently explain my feelings for this one, I’m going to share three quotes:

 “Love is so painful, how could you wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?”

“But does he see everything, or only what he wants to be seeing? This is always one of the greatest questions of love.”

“We wish we could show you the world as it sleeps. Then you’d never have any doubt about how similar, how trusting, how astounding and vulnerable we all are.”

And also direct you to three reviews that are better than mine:

DanielleChristinaJamie

And one confession for the road: I’m not actually a David Levithan fan. I’ve read Naomi & Ely, Nick & Norah and Every Day and while I liked certain aspects of the last two, I mainly think of them all as being kinda meh. But maybe I will try some of his other work at some point in the future, based on this read. If you’re interested in LGBT books, you should definitely check this one out!

Fighting Dreamer

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg [LGBT April]

Openly Straight coverOpenly Straight by Bill Konisberg
Goodreads | Website | Twitter
Release Date:May 28th 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Series: none

 

 

Goodreads descriptionA funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.

This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.

 

I was pretty interested in Openly Straight when I saw the description for it when it came out, and I have been meaning to read it ever since. I even saw it at the library a few times and for some reason never picked it up. When I signed up for LGBT April, I knew it was the perfect book to read!

If you read the description, you saw that Rafe has been out since he was young and it’s become a major part of his identity, while he feels like it is overshadowing other interesting aspects. He wants to take a step back from that and be a person without one thing being the focus of his life. So he goes to an all-boys’s boarding school on the other side of the country and decides to not come out there. He just wants to be a boy and make friends and play sports.

I really enjoyed Openly Straight. It was funny, awkward, and endearing. It was heartwarming and wrenching. It made me smile like an idiot. It had good kissing scenes. Rafe always sounded like a real teen, and there were some smart, thoughtful conversations in the book that made me so happy, because teens definitely have those types of conversations.

Rafe is so lovely. I wanted to hug him a lot. He just wanted to be able to see different parts of himself and be free to explore things he couldn’t always experience as openly gay. I was frustrated for him, because it was dishonest and he knew that and had it pointed out to him several times, but he just wanted a chance for something different. I was waiting for the fallout, throughout the whole book. It actually ended up not being as intense as I expected, but it still happened in a believable way. It wasn’t too perfect, it did involve some mess, but it seemed to fit the story really well.

Openly Straight is a genuine look at how labels affect life, even if  they aren’t seen as a bad thing. I loved seeing how Rafe’s parents, friends, and community were supportive, sometimes too supportive by Rafe’s standards. I liked the looks back into his experiences and how they helped or frustrated him. I loved seeing him in his new element and navigating his new persona but also dealing with realistic peer pressures, and how he cared so much about what other people thought and had to deal with that. I liked Rafe’s writing and reading the teacher’s thoughts on his writing, too. That was a really interesting aspect, because you have to wonder how much work that has to be for the author, writing as a teen and as a teacher! I feel like Rafe and several other characters grew and learned a lot in this book.

4 star rating

 

Openly Straight was a fun read without being too light. I can see myself maybe reading it again at some point. I would definitely read other work by Bill Konisberg. I would recommend it to anyone wanting an enjoyable book with an important LGBT message about identity and acceptance!

Fighting Dreamer