REVIEW #170: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Title: Two Boys Kissing
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Pages: 208, Hardcover
Source: Library, Audiobook

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.


I applaud David Levithan for writing this book.

Two Boys Kissing follows several young gay men, all with a different story to tell. At the heart of the book you find Craig and Harry who are trying to set a world record for the longest kiss, and send a message by being the first same sex couple to do so. This part of the story is influenced by true events. Craig and Harry are, in part, reacting to the beating of a fellow schoolmate, Tariq, who stands and supports his friends during their daring display. Elsewhere, a pink-haired boy and a blue-haired boy meet at a gay prom. While Avery and Ryan try to begin a relationship, Peter and Neil have managed to form a steady relationship. Then there is Cooper. He feels alone and unloved and gets swept away in a tragic virtual existence as he searches for some answers as to who he should be. Each boy has his own challenges and struggles to overcome. A different experience with close ones and the outside world. With this, David Levithan paints a picture of what it means to be gay in a world that still struggles with homosexuality. 

And all these stories are told by "a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS". If you saw my status update, I failed to read this synopsis before starting this one and had no idea who the “we” was that kept being referred to. Gillian kindly educated me. While it took a little bit to get used to this narration I do feel like it benefited the book in the end. It gave us yet another perspective, and showed the differences between generations. As a society, I believe we have come a long way in our acceptance of others, but we still have a very long way to go as evidenced by the truth that is in these pages and that we see every day. This narration also deepened the level of emotion portrayed, especially near the end. 

Two Boys Kissing tells a story that needs to be told. A story that everyone should hear. It saddens me that we live in a world with such hate. That people are ostracized, belittled, judged, and tormented for being different. And it frustrates me that the ones who really need to read this book probably never will.

I really do think this book was beautiful. Even if I couldn’t relate to this book I still understand its significance and the message that these words contain. I really hope that this book will reach those who need it the most. 

Final note about the audiobook – it was a little difficult to follow in the beginning because of the various perspectives and the third party narration but once I picked up on who the key players were I had no problem keeping up with it.

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8 comments:

  1. ALL OF THESE THINGS! That's exactly what landed David Levithan on my auto-buy list. He manages to tell each of his stories in such a unique/new way and every single one is so eloquent and heartbreakingly beautiful. And one of the things I love most about his books is that he delivers these stunningly simple truths that should be obvious in an unfortunate world where they are not. I applaud him for writing books where being gay is just a normal part of the story, not the whole story. I recently bought this book and so look forward to reading it (and subsequently, pushing it on everyone I know!).

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    1. This is the first book I read by him! I definitely need to read more. I really hope you like it, well.. I'm pretty sure you will :) Enjoy!

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  2. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book. I really need to read it sooner rather than later. Plus I enjoyed Levithan's book Every Day. I'm not sure I would be able to handle it on audio though so I'll stick to getting a print copy like I usually do.

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    1. Yeah, most books are better for reading rather than listening but I can't be picky! Not enough audiobooks for all the driving I do! But yes, If you like Levithan's work and a moving book, this one is a must-read!

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  3. Ummmm wow. Just wow. I got the chills just reading your review! Levithan has always written fantastic books, so I had no doubt that this one would be just as amazing. I definitely can't personally relate to a lot of elements of the story, but I lovelovelove representation of all different types of people and I do think this is the kind of story that needs to be told, that will help teens (and adults) all over. I'm getting a copy of this ASAP.

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    1. :D :D :D :D agreed! I hope you like it!

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  4. I have yet to read a book by David Levithan, but this one and Every Day are on my TBR list. Loved your review!

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    1. Thanks! This was my first Levithan too. It didn't disappoint!

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