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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan My initial reaction after reading the end of this book: LEVITHAN! what do you do to my emotions why.Setting the sledgehammer of emotions aside…One of the things that I mentioned in my Openly Straight review was that I had felt that it would have been buried by the press for Two Boys Kissing; specifically, the fact that Levithan has stated that his book is a book written for now as opposed to its spiritual predecessor Boy Meets Boy. Having now finally gotten my hands on Two Boys Kissing, I’m happy to say that there’s really not a direct comparison to this and Openly Straight, and even though Levithan treads familiar ground, it is an examination of what it means to be gay in 2013 as opposed to 2003 or 1983. (It should be noted that Levithan states that the book was written shortly after the founding of the Trevor Project in 2010, and that proceeds from Two Boys Kissing will be funded to it.) It feels a little moot to say it, but the fact that the book is narrated by the spirits of gay men who died from AIDS really underscores the premise. This isn’t a book that’s just about exploring one’s sexuality or labels or the fear about coming out to your family; there’s all of that in there. But it’s also about the bittersweetness of being able to be free and open, and how some things really haven’t changed. I liked that Levithan doesn’t shy away from the fact that there’s still a lot of hatred and bigotry in the world, even when things have come so far. Sure, you have the community center holding the gay prom, and the local high school not batting an eye when two boys decide to break the world record for kissing on their lawn, but it doesn’t mean that everyone’s okay with it. One of the things I really liked was the parallel coming-outs with Craig and Neil, specifically for how their parents get involved. Craig’s mother showing up at the marathon make-out is heartbreaking enough to begin with, and then the increasing realization that Craig’s family has abandoned him is just more than heart-shattering. For Neil, it’s really just getting his parents to outright admit what they won’t say, and even though there’s still things to talk about, after his parents admit that Neil’s gay and they still love him, life pretty much just moves on. But then there’s also Cooper. Cooper’s story is more atypical to what most people probably still think gay YA fiction is like—the self-loathing, getting kicked out of the house, and steadily declining path. And I liked that it’s in here. Levithan’s works typically have a positive gay experience—which isn’t to say that’s bad, but sometimes the negative takes a backseat. And as I said above, I liked that this does illustrate the negative. I liked that we do have a character who’s self-loathing and scared and it illustrates the message all the more better for it. And having the narration underscore those last few pages with Cooper really bring Levithan’s point across—even if you’re scared and lonely and don’t know what to do, you are never alone. (Massive points to Levithan, for pulling off a tricky concept a second time beautifully without resorting to schmaltz or tragedy for the sake of with his chorus of narrators.) This is a book about capturing moments in time. There’s no one major character breakthrough or huge defining plot moment that changes the characters’ lives forever, but a series of sketches in 32 hours about these boys and what they go through. The closest to a major character breakthrough/huge defining plot moment are both Craig and Cooper, but putting the focus on couples like Ryan and Avery and Peter and Neil makes this feel like these are just moments in time and we’re just glimpsing them. (The book conversation between Peter and Neil kinda made me roll my eyes at first, but then d’awww.) The only thing that I really wanted more of is Tariq—he just feels too much on the edges, and I really wanted to get more in-depth to his life.I do agree the assertion that this a book that needed to be written now. It’s not a particularly ground-breaking book in its portrayal of gay kids nor is its message particularly anything new. But Levithan’s writing and making fantastic character connections is what he’s always done best, and it really shines here. It’s a glimpse into these lives and it doesn’t need to be anything more than that. And that last page. (My heart, it can’t take it.) Fantastic book, highly recommended.