This was another book I was required to read for my YAL grad class, and I will be honest... I wasn't too sure about starting it. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE Levithan's writing. The Lover's Dictionary is one of my favorite books, but I never really gave LGBTQ+ books a chance because they never really appealed to me, part of the reason being that contemporary is not really my thing either, but I can't begin to say how glad I am that I read this book and how much I truly enjoyed and cried over the hurt and pain of these characters.
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary/Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ+
Synopsis:My Bookish Thoughts:
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. (Goodreads)
I have a number of friends who identify themselves among the LGBTQ+ community, and because of that, I knew that I needed to read more of this type of literature. I really really try to be sensitive when it comes to these issues, and this book reminded me again of why it's so very important to be gentle and loving and understanding in situations like this.
Two Boys Kissing was a story of heartbreak (in more ways than one), joy, excitement, young love, loneliness, and perseverance. The book covered the lives of several different LGBTQ+ characters that spanned the spectrum from trans*, to gay, to queer, to asexual, and everything in between and covered multiple races. The diversity in this book is astounding and so welcomed! All the characters were at different points in their adolescent journey. Some were out of the closet, others weren't, some had boyfriends, others didn't. I think the diversity in character and relationship throughout the story was probably the most important part of this book. So many people can easily identify with these characters no matter if you consider yourself straight or LGBTQ+. This book build empathy, not because of race or sexual orientation but because they are human, and these characters represent humanity so very very well.
The one thing that makes this book stand out among all the others is the narrator. Two Boys Kissing has a very specific narrator(s) that act very similar to a Greek chorus which is comprised of dead LGBTQ+ men. I think I found the strength of the narrator(s) the most profound part of the book. Their words pack a punch and make you weep for people who have been bullied and gone through such terrible, inhumane trials in adolescence.
I want to leave you with one of my most favorite quotations from this book. Per usual, David Levithan has a beautiful way with words, and this is just another reason why you must read this book:
and another one of my favorite quotes:But this is what losing most of your friends does: It makes you unafraid. Whatever anyone threatens, whatever anyone is offended by, it doesn't matter, because you have already survived much, much worse. In fact, you are still surviving. You survive every single blessed day.
Final Thoughts:We do not start as dust. We do not end as dust. We make more than dust.That's all we ask of you. Make more than dust.
I find this to be a severely profound book (more becuase of the narrator but also because of the beautiful diversity). I think it should be required reading for everyone. It reminds people who identify within the LGBTQ+ community that they are not alone in this fight, and it fosters empathy and understanding in everyone, even for those who identify as straight.
If this book came with a warning label, it would look a lot like this:
WARNING: This book will change the world, be prepared to be changed for the better.
I gave this book 4.5 stars