A Free Dreamer YA Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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Rating: 5 stars

Two Boys KissingNew 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.

Reviewing “Two Boys Kissing” is hard. There’s so much going on in this book and yet you have to be really careful not to reveal too much, because somehow, there really isn’t all that much going on, either. Sounds weird, I know, but that’s how it felt to me.

I will be honest and admit that the first 20 pages were weird. The story is told by a collective “we” (gay men who died of AIDS) to “you” (the gay boys/men of this day and age). Usually, I really don’t like it when an author addresses the reader directly. So it took some getting used to.

And then, on page 20, something made my breath hitch and suddenly, I just couldn’t stop. Just like that, David Levithan had me hooked. Suddenly, the strange pov felt perfectly normal and like the most obvious choice. Something just clicked there and I loved the book.

The tone was both light and dark at the same time. There was the sweet getting-to-know each other of two potential lovers, Avery and Ryan. And then there was Cooper, who felt so lost and alone. Craig and Henry, former lovers, now best friends, trying to have the longest kiss of the world, and trying to figure out their feelings for each other at the same time. Peter and Neil, already a couple and getting a bit lost in every day life. And then, of course, there are the gay men who lead us through the story. All of these characters have an element of lightness and an element of tragedy. I smiled a lot during this book, but I was also deeply moved and came close to grieve at times.

“Two Boys Kissing” only has 196 pages, and yet the author managed to give his seven characters real depth. Other authors struggle with that when they have twice as many pages and only two MCs to introduce. David Levithan really impressed me here. I felt connected to each and everyone. He even managed to make me care about the minor characters in this story.

The author packed some very deep issues in this little book: coming out, gender identity, depression, AIDS, homophobia and so on. By all means, that should feel like way too much for so few pages. And yet it worked. It neither felt overloaded with angst and drama, nor did it feel like the issues didn’t get enough time to unfold. I have absolutely no idea how David Levithan made this all work.

All in all, I just absolutely loved this book. This is my second book by David Levithan, “Boy Meets Boy” being my first, and it definitely won’t be my last. I already snatched a copy of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” for next to nothing and begged a classmate for more books by him. I think it’s safe to say that I am now an official fan of David Levithan.

If you decide to give this book a try, don’t stop reading after the initial “what the fuck” moment the unusual writing style will cause. I’m convinced something will flip the switch for you, too, and you will end up loving this book as much as I did.

Cover: The cover shows two boys kissing. Simple and yet it really works.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details:

Hardcover, 196 pages
Published August 27th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published August 2013)
Original TitleTwo Boys Kissing
ISBN 0307931900 (ISBN13: 9780307931900)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Literary Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2013), Stonewall Book Award Nominee for Children’s & Young Adult Literature (2014), Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2014), Lambda Literary Award Nominee for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult (2014), The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2014)

A Free Dreamer YA Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Boy Meets Boy This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

Boy Meets Boy“ by David Levithan is a young adult book set in a small town in the USA.

Paul is gay, has always liked boys and has always known he prefers boys over girls. The first time he realized not every boy had the same preferences as him was in kindergarten. His kindergarten teacher wrote on his report that he was definitely and that he was also very sure of himself. Now he is in his sophomore year and falls in love with Noah, the new boy in school.

“Boy Meets Boy” features a set of very unique characters, such as Infinite Darlene, a male to female trans girl, who is prom queen and star football player at the same time.

Paul’s town is a bit of a utopia. Nobody gets hate for their sexual preferences and everybody is accepted just as they are. That definitely takes some getting used to. It was a little hard for me to get into the story at first, but eventually I ended up loving it.

Homophobia is an important topic nonetheless, since Tony’s parents, think their son will be damned and go to hell for being gay. Paul does his best to help his friend and make life easier for him. I really enjoyed that part of the story. The deep friendship between the two was obvious from the start.

The love story between Noah and Paul was slow to unfold and there were definitely some obstacles to overcome before their eventual happily ever after. Paul comes up with some very unique and creative ideas to woo his love interest and make up for his mistakes.

I loved how the author managed to make homo- and transphobia an issue and yet a non-issue at the same time. I liked Paul from the beginning, even if I didn’t always agree with his choices.

“Boy Meets Boy” is a light, fun read that left me with a smile at the end. It was very funny and there were quite a few laugh-out-loud scenes in there. I can’t wait to get my hands on more books by this author.

If you like your YA love stories to be a little strange, with some very quirky and unique characters, then go for it.  Just don’t expect a deeply serious coming-of-age story.

The tenth anniversary edition also features a special short story about Infinite Darlene. It’s set on Valentine’s Day and tells about her first date with a male cheerleader. I quite enjoyed that little story as well.

Cover: The cover is very simplistic, with the all blue background and three candy hearts with the title in them. I actually quite like it though. It’s cute and fits the story.

Sale Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 226 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published September 9th 2003)
Original TitleBoy Meets Boy
ASINB002ZW7E6O
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingNew Jersey (United States)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award (2003), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2008)