Book Review: Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Alfred A. Knopf
200 pages

I am in love with Two Boys Kissing.

And that probably means that David Levithan will be getting added to my list of literary crushes because if this is any indication of how this guy writes, then I need more – even though I’m in utter and complete awe of how he does this.

Two Boys Kissing grabs you at the title and with that gorgeous in-your-face cover picture. You know what this is going to be about – but you’re only partially right. Because while you expect this to be about two teenage boys (Craig and Harry) and their complicated relationship with each other, you don’t expect them to be observed (as they publicly try to break the world’s record for the longest kiss) … by anonymous, once-closeted voices from a past and an era defined by an epidemic that once turned thousands of young men like Craig and Harry into instant ghosts.

“There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined.” (pg. 1)

Imagine, indeed.

David Levithan’s writing in this young adult novel is powerful, making this a book that all teenagers need to read. It won’t be, however; most likely, Two Boys Kissing is going to become one of the most challenged books in towns and cities across the country, probably in the very types of communities that most need to read it. 

“Two boys kissing. You know what this means. 

For us, it was such a secret gesture. Secret because we were afraid. Secret because we were ashamed. Secret because it was a story that nobody was telling. 

But what power it had.. Whether we cloaked it in the guise of You be the boy and I’ll be the girl, or whether we defiantly called it by its name, when we kissed, we knew how powerful it was. Our kisses were seismic. When seen by the wrong person, they could destroy us. When shared with the right person, they had the power of confirmation, the force of destiny. 

If you put enough closets together, you have enough space for a room. If you put enough rooms together, you have space for a house. If you put enough houses together, you have space for a town, then a city, then a nation, then a world.” (pg. 61)

This is so very much more than just “a gay novel.” In it’s own way, it’s groundbreaking on a level rarely seen. This is a novel that speaks to the very truth about what it means to be human, to be vulnerable, to be your own true self.

It is the holiday season. Some of us may be seeing people we don’t usually see during other times of the year and sometimes, conversations happen. Truths have a way of coming out during these emotional times. Maybe you’ll be hearing them. Maybe you’ll be speaking them.

Either way, remember this book.

“The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest. Each of us had a first sentence, and most of us found the strength to say it out loud to someone who deserved to hear it. What we hoped, and what we found, was that the second sentence of the truth is always easier than the first, and the third sentence is even easier than that. Suddenly you are speaking the truth in paragraphs, in pages. The fear, the nervousness, is still there, but it is joined by a new confidence. All along, you’ve used the first sentence as a lock. But now you find that it’s the key.” (pg. 54)

Highly recommended. 5 stars out of 5


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  1. Pingback: The Sunday Salon: Year in Review: The Best Books I Read in 2013 | melissa firman

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