Boy Meets Boy - David Levithan
Iím going to rave shamelessly about this book. I loved the characters; I loved the plot; I loved the writing. Itís not often I quote from books, but I really want to with this one. Almost every page could supply a great quote, but this is my favourite:
ďWe are left in a darkness of blues. I say his name again. But the only response comes from the sound of his leaving.Ē
All those wonderful long vowels just capture that moment. That particular quote gives the impression that the book is sad, which is totally not the case. This is the most upbeat novel Iíve read for a very long time; I actually feel that the world is a better place today for having read it.
Paul, the narrator, is a wonderful creation. Told by his kindergarten teacher at five that he is definitely gay, he is wonderfully centred and sure of who he is. He celebrates being gay in a way we only usually see adults do, and his infectious self-belief extends to his close circle of friends and his family.
One day, aged sixteen, he meets Noah, just a year older than him. Itís love at first sight and their romance is just delightful.
Everything in this novel challenges takes on high school presented in books like The Boyfriend. I hated that novel and hated the way it presented its characters. Boy Meets Boy is absurdly delightful. It makes you believe in young people again. Everyone is given enormous dignity in this novel, from the transsexual Football Captain, Infinite Darlene, to right-wing Christian parents trying to stop their son being gay.
There are no clichťs about families or coming out; itís all terribly refreshing.
Do give this wonderful novel a go.†
This was the right book at the right time, following the revolting CRASH & BULLY, and IN MY ROOM, with its cold explicitness.† Itís a nice quick read, sweet & romantic, with no sex but lots of love (and snogs) and enough angst to stop it getting cloying.
The title is very apt.† As Levithan says, even if a gay kid doesnít have the courage to pick up his book at least he knows boy-to-boy love exists as a possibility.† All teens should read this wonderful book.† Heck Iím as jaded and cynical as they come and it made me cry.† Tears of happiness I hasten to add.
When I saw Bully, I was so angry its bunch of disturbed slackers was held up as a picture of contemporary late adolescence: spoiled, alienated, selfish, immoral, and incapable of real feeling.† Well, the teens in this book are much more like the ones I know.† Not perfect but basically good and fairly responsible, the hope for our future not monsters.
Set in what is a Through the Looking Glass gay utopia, not a place that exists (yet) in our reality, but something that could be if current trends towards acceptance arenít derailed by bigotry and hate.† A place where sexual preference is irrelevant.† A place where two boys can walk through town holding hands, where PFLAG has more clout than the PTA, and the Boy Scouts became the Joy Scouts in protest against institutionalised homophobia
Paul is a teenager.† I get confused by the intricacies of American high school terminology so Iím not sure how old a sophomore is.† He has almost unnerving confidence: an astute† kindergarten teacher identified him as gay, with a very good sense of self.†
His high school is rather special.† The star quarterback is a 6í 4Ē transsexual called Infinite Darlene who is also homecoming queen.† The upcoming Dowagerís dance, Ďarchitectedí by Paul & his friends, takes the theme of death and the local cemetery has books of remembrance placed beside every grave for letters, photos, etc. so the dead remain part of the community.
Thereís no agonising over being gay in this book, no boy hustlers or drugtaking.† Paul is happy, with a very supportive family.† His mum is more concerned whether he flosses his teeth than what he gets up to with boys.† When he meets Noah, a real dreamboat arty type, it seems like everything is perfect.† Soon theyíre an item, inseparable, celebrating their compatible randomness and painting music.
Sounds incredible?† Maybe, but itís not unbelievable because Levithan makes it real.† He uses humour to good effect, and Paul is a great voice, likeable and self-assured, clever and funny.† Heís also a big romantic, very much in love with Noah.†
The course of true love, however, doesnít run smooth.† Noah was badly let down by his last boyfriend, and finds it hard to trust again.† Paul tends to think everyone is like him, which makes it hard on those heís close to.† His ex boyfriend Kyle who thought he was straight has a change of heart.
Homophobia isnít entirely absent from the story.† Paulís best friend Tony has strictly religious parents who canít accept their gay son.† But Tony loves them and doesnít want to lose his family, so, like Laurent in JUST A QUESTION OF LOVE, he avoids confrontation.
I cannot recommend this book too highly.† Itís just perfect.† If you need cheering up or reassurance that it is indeed a wonderful world, then this is just what you want.†