Rummanah Aasi
  David Levithan is one of my auto-read authors. I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of his latest book and I was very lucky enough to get an advanced readers copy of this book at the Annual ALA Conference in Chicago this past summer.

Description: In his follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Every Day, David Levithan, co-author of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, 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.

Review: Two Boys Kissing weaves together events that occur in the lives of several gay teens while two former lovers attempt to break the world's record for the longest kiss. The tone of this book is much more serious compared to the other books that I've read by Levithan and its structure is completely different. In many ways Two Boys Kissing reminded me of Kushner's award winning play Angels in America.
  Two Boys Kissing is narrated by a chorus of a lost gay generation from decades before, one that was ravaged by AIDS, anger, politics and more. It is through their lens and commentary that this story of seven boys from the present is told. The first two, as the title suggests, are Craig and Harry who are out to break the world's kissing record (32 hours, 12 minutes and 9 seconds) in protest of a hate crime enacted upon their friend. They're not a couple anymore, but they still have residual feelings. A second pair, Peter and Neil, have been a couple for a while, but still have insecurities about themselves and their relationship. Pink-haired transgendered Avery and blue-haired Ryan meet at an alternative LGBT prom where sparks fly and a possible romance blooms. All the while, closed Cooper deals with depression and is kicked out of his parents' house and obsessed with gay-hookup apps, suffers alone.
   The story drifts back and forth and among these seven youth under the watchful, voice of the past, which shows the reader, particularly those outside of the gay culture of what little moments that we take for granted mean to a gay teen- from the innocent hand holding to kissing. The chorus provides insight and wisdom, but it can get a bit heavy handed at times. The very fact that this novel is published with two boys explicitly kissing on the cover and its themes shows how far we have come in GLBT literature, and how much further the cannon has to go. While not magical like his other novels, Two Boys Kissing gives us some insight of what means to be a gay teen though it never has the intention to tell the story of all gay teens. This slim book packs a punch and is though provoking.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language including homophobic slurs, underage drinking and a character enters many chat rooms of a sexual nature.

If you like this book try: How They Met and Other Stories by David Levithan, How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart
6 Responses
  1. I should read this one. i like David Levithan - I even approached him at a bookstore in New York to get a photo with him. The narration sounds a bit gimmicky but from most of the reviews, it seems to work, if a bit heavy handed as you say.

  2. Yes, indeed we have come a long way since I was a teen on AIDS and tolerance toward gay people. I am sure this book is an eye opening read.

  3. Sounds like a good book. You know it's good writing when you don't need many pages to get that punch. I'm surprised there isn't more books out there like this one.

  4. Jenny Says:

    I love that this book has two guys kissing on the cover and that they didn't try to downplay the title by using an image that might be more "accepted". I love the progress I'm seeing in terms of LGBT literature, it brings a smile to my face every time I come across a book like this:) Glad that despite the story being a touch heavy handed at times, you still really enjoyed it overall Rummanah! And 32 hours is the record for kissing? That is a VERY long time to be joined at the lips!

  5. Candace Says:

    I'm planning to read this one for LGBT month in April. I bought it when it released but haven't got to it yet. It's nice to have an idea of it though. I had it in my head it was about just one couple (or two boys). I'm looking forward to giving this a read.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, David Levithan is totally an autobuy author for me too. He always writes such wise, thought-provoking and emotional stories. I'm so glad you found this an insightful read, even if the chorus was a bit heavy handed. I'm also thrilled that we've come so far that we can have a cover with two boys kissing on the cover. Lovely review!

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