Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Narrated by an older generation of men who didn't survive the AIDS epidemic, this is the story of 2 boys who are going to kiss for 32 hours to set a world record.  Publicly.  On the lawn of their high school.  Broadcast over the Internet.  For the whole world to see.

Surrounding this important event we also see several other gay teens in various stages of relationships.  We see an established couple, a new/budding relationship, and a teen who is lost in his identity and turns to an online sex addiction, among others.

This is going to be a tough review to write because my feelings about it are complicated.  I keep swaying back and forth between loving it for it's important message and beautiful writing and wishing that there was more content and just more of everything.  208 pages is not enough!  I'm going to do this review a little differently because I'm having trouble organizing my thoughts right now.  So I'm just going to go with talking points for this book.

Based on a true story:

  • I didn't realize this was based on a true story until I read the author's note at the end.  Not sure how I missed that fact in the synopsis, but I did.  And that fact made me really happy because the whole time I was reading the book I kept thinking "This would be so cool if the world record was held by 2 dudes."  And lo and behold IT IS!!  Cool stuff.  Although now I don't really feel like the author came up with this cool original idea anymore.  Kind of like he's just using the headlines to inspire his book... which is fine, but it would've been cooler if he made it up and inspired 2 guys or girls to go out and do this.
  • We read this for my bookclub this month and a lot of the girls did not like the narration AT ALL.  I was totally opposite.  I loved it and wanted more of it.  I wanted more of this older generation's story.  Although, when I really got into reading it, I kind of wished the narration was saved for the beginning or end of the chapters.  There were points when this God-like voice would bust in and start preaching in the middle of a scene, and while I didn't hate when they did it, I could have lived without SO many interruptions.  But that's just being nit-picky because I did really enjoy the narration and think without it this book would've been so much less.
What I like:
  • I freaking love that this has become a popular book.  How cool is it that gay AND straight people all over the country are reading this book?!  When I was in high school if you would've told me that we would get to the point where people would carry around a book in public with 2 guys making out on the cover, I would have never believed you.  I think that is so important and shows how far we've come.  I think a book like this can open so many minds to what it is like growing up different (in any way, not just in your sexuality).  Another thing I really loved was the writing.  You guys, this book is so beautifully written.  It is a quote-lovers dream.  I could have marked every other page for something that struck me as worth remembering (if it wasn't a library book that is).
What I'm a little ehhh about:
  • I like the idea of this book and think it's an important book in the overall YA scene.  But maybe that's not enough.  I mean not that much actually happens in this book.  Guys kiss, people live their everyday lives, we get a little peek into some of the hate that the LGTBQ community faces now and in the past, but that's about it.  I felt like the Avery/Ryan relationship was completely rushed through.  Avery is transgendered and I almost feel like he was thrown in as token.  If there was more detail about his life, I would probably feel different, and I'm not saying that it wasn't important to include him, I just think he deserved more screen-time so we could get to know him.  Bottom line here is 208 pages is not enough time to explore the important issues that are being addressed.  
OVERALL:  I love that there is a YA book like this.  I think it's incredibly important and the book itself is full of beautiful writing.  It is narrated in a unique all-seeing way and I really enjoyed that.  I just didn't personally feel like 208 pages was enough to really dig into all the different characters.  Definitely worth reading though!!

This Book Contains:
  • LGBT issues
  • Kissing... lots of kissing lol
  • The grosser realities of trying to kiss for 32 hours
  • Video games
  • Hate crimes
  • Coming out
  • Gay Prom
  • Unique Narration

My Rating:


How I got this book: Library
Date Published: 8/27/2013


  1. I've heard so much great things about this book and I eventually plan on reading it, but only 208 pages? I don't know how they expect to make an impact on readers with that small number of pages. Like you said in your review, the fact that this book is so popular shows how far we've grown, I have a cousin that is gay and while it's not my style, he's free to love whomever he chooses. Great review!

  2. I agree that it could have been longer! I almost wish the author would write a sequel or multiple sequels zeroing in on the individuals and updating what happened to them. I think it's such a wonderful and important book for people to read. It's difficult to see the realities anyone in the LGBT communities face every day with things others might take for granted, but it's also so encouraging to see how far society has come. Great review!

  3. I'm with Christy, everyone seems to love this one! I so agree with you on the glad this book exists part, I think so many people will find this helpful or kind of give them hope. Love the point you made about carrying this one in public! Great review :)

  4. Very good review and very good book. I read it and enjoyed it a few months' back. It took me a while to get used to the cutting back and forth between not just the chorus but also the various teens involved in this story. But I thought it was all well-done overall. I was glad that two guys have the real record, but a little part of me was disappointed when I read that note in the back that it was based on a true story because knowing that tidbit somehow took away the magical, dreamlike quality of the story for me.

  5. You sound like me; you love the idea of the book, but you felt it was a little rushed, and you almost hate saying anything about it because of the subject matter and the overall message it conveys. This books sounds awesome (I have not heard of it before now), and I'm adding it to my ever-expanding list of books to read. :) I like that the narrator is of an older generation; my uncle was a homosexual that was diagnosed with AIDS in the last 80's (I believe, I was very young), and died in the early 90's. Maybe it will hit home for me!

    1. Wow this book would be SO perfect for you. The narration is definitely all about what it was like for your uncle's generation.

  6. You have convinced me! I'm definitely going to be reading this one. Shameless plug but I'm going to read this in April for LGBT Month! I hope you can check it out. :D It's a month where you can read or talk about LGBT+ books and such. ;)

    1. I have heard about your LGTB Month event and it sounds like a blast :)