Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers on August 27, 2013
Genres: Contemporary YA
Also by this author: The Lover's Dictionary, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, Every Day, The Running Dream, Boy Meets Boy
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
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. (from Goodreads..I just couldn’t write a good summary myself for this one).
Ladies and gentleman, we have yet another David Levithan novel that I am absolutely and totally smitten with. This may just be my favorite yet. I’m telling you, I dogearred the hell out of Two Boys Kissing (don’t cringe..you already knew I committed this book crime) and read it in a single day! Incredibly thought-provoking, beautiful and so many passages that make me remember how words can just make my heart flutter. David Levithan is one of those special voices and this book is a shining example of that.
I’m not going to lie, as soon as I started reading I was not thrilled about the Greek Chorus narration but it quickly won me over and honestly I think MADE the novel. Their collective voice broke my heart but was also so, so hopeful. As much as I loved the boys, these men are the ones that will linger in my heart for a long, long time. I was tearful at times and completely mesmerized by them and their take on what was unfolding in the boys lives and also reflecting on THEIR lives and delighting in the PROGRESS that their own struggles and fight helped pave the way for. As much as it was the wise and thoughtful insight of the gay men of the past who died from AIDS reflecting on all this, it also made me think SO much of all the voices of the past that fought for us to have something or to make progress or give us rights in general. It made me weep for those people and what they went through and gave up for the sake of progress.
The main event of the novel is these two boys who are going to be publicly kissing in front of their high school to beat the world record for the longest kiss. Woven in are stories of various other boys who are gay and at various stages of coming out or in their relationships. There’s also another couple who are both out and dating, two guys who meet at a dance and are in the very beginnings of getting to know each other and a boy who isn’t out yet to anyone except the guys he meets in chatrooms.
There were many things these boys dealt with — being ok in their skin, approval from their family, first loves, coming out to their family and more — and it was easy to get caught up in all the story lines and be rooting for them. I was brought to tears, was reminded of first love, how hard it is to fight for love sometimes and accepting yourself first before you worry about others accepting you. Their stories felt authentic and embodied what it is to be a teen — gay or straight.
Two Boys Kissing was yet another brilliant novel from David Levithan. It was beautifully written, uplifting and honestly sobering at times. As wary as I was about the Greek Chorus style narration, I quickly cast my doubts and found their voice to really make the novel for me — to be honest I think THEY were the ones that will linger even more than the boys. It’s a must read — not just for gay teens — but for everyone because it touches so delicately and thoughtfully on so many issues. It reminds you of all the people in history who paved the way for any of us but how much further we have to go because the things these boy faced are real and they are today. I love books that make me think, just want to squeeze all of humanity in for a hug and remind me why books are so, so powerful. David Levithan, you are a hell of a man, a very gifted writer, a wonderful advocate for gay teens and someone who has helped pave the way for more progress even in your own space in publishing by giving voice to LGBT teens who needed to see themselves in YA. Looking at this cover reminds me of how far we’ve come.
Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you’ve read it? Did you find the Greek chorus narration to be effective? Did you dogear the crap out of this book like I did??