02 June 2010

Book Review: Boy Meets Boy

Title:  Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Simple and short, Boy Meets Boy offers a quick glimpse into one teenager's romance.  The world Levithan created is what intrigued me most about this book.  Paul, our protagonist, goes to an unusual highschool, one where the football quarterback is also the homecoming queen, sexuality and gender are acceptably fluid and diverse, and almost no one in the town seems to think this easy acceptance is strange.  It was a beautiful snapshot of what life could be like.  The teenagers in this novel are straight, gay, transgendered, bisexual, and questioning; and it's all okay.  One anecdote in the story made this abundantly clear.  In third grade, Paul runs for class president with a unique campaign slogan:  Vote for me...I'm gay!  In the real world, proms are being canceled to prevent homosexual couples from attending, but in Levithan's world, Paul wins the election.

Thematically, Boy Meets Boy focuses on identity and confidence.  When Paul is in kindergarten, he chances upon his report card which reads: "Paul is definitely gay and has a very good sense of self".  These two qualities permeate the rest of the book with a focus on the latter.  While Paul struggles a bit with determining an action, he always seems clear about who he is.  His conflicts primarily arise from the identity issues plaguing his friends.  I found this a unique perspective for a protagonist.  Typically, the protagonist faces a conflict and changes because of it.  Paul, however, feels like a static character.  It is his friends - Tony, Kyle, and Joni - who are dynamic, growing over the course of the story.  Instead of this constancy of personality leaving the reader bored or feeling superficial, it created in Paul an admirable sense of strength.

I wasn't riveted by this book, but I did find its simplicity and clarity charming (in a totally non-condescending way). It was like looking at a single daisy in a field of grass.  Sweet and unexpected rather than profound and heartrending.

Memorable Quote:  "There isn't really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best."  I was just talking the other day with Cass from Bonjour Cass about this very issue. While I recognize the need for distinct group formations and the support such similarities can provide, I'm all for mainstreaming everything to the point where mainstream is a non-word.  So, like Paul, I think the blending of diverse peoples is for the best.

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A Bit of Fun

Amy from Amy Reads, Alix from Heetr, and I were talking about how we needed to sync up our reviews of BEA books we shared.  And totally by accident, Amy and I both posted reviews of Boy Meets Boy today.  It looks like the universe is telling us this was a good idea.

Question:  Why have you not yet read this?

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, GLBT ChallengeHogwarts Reading Challenge,


  1. Never heard of it, I suppose that is why! What an interesting premise though. I'd like to think that someday somewhere there would be that much tolerance, but I don't think so. Not in our lifetime.

  2. I find it hilariously awesome that we discussed posting reviews on the same day and then magically did without planning! That is to say that I also loved the book, and love your thoughts on mainstreaming, so true! Just because you're gay doesn't mean you can't be, for example, a jock or goth or nerd or whatever else! And my review went up today too :)

  3. I wasn't part of the conversation with Cass, but I completely agree with the need to blend us all together. I don't like when people go out in distinct groups based on race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. I think that helps to keep us prejudiced, which is a bad thing. Mixing us all together is how we learn everyone is a person just like we are.

  4. Charming but not condescending isn't always easy to pull off, but it sounds like Levithan manages. I look forward to reading this someday.

  5. Sandy - Unfortunately I agree with you. I think it will be a while before the world becomes so accepting.

    Amy - May our trend continue...

    Amanda - I agree. While we don't need to be like each other, we do need to like each other - and that requires proximity.

    Nymeth - I think the two of us both really like the concept of charming!

  6. I have tried to read this book like three times, twice in print and once on audio, and I just can't do it. It's just so JOLLY--which is funny, since I'm always complaining about how gay characters are always either MISERABLE or DEAD or HAVE AIDS or THE ONLY GAY IN THE WORLD(tm). I think it's a really important book to have, though, for the intended YA audience. I tried to read THE WELL OF LONELINESS in high school and I thought my life was going to be heartache and misery and, well, loneliness.

  7. Cass - It is definitely a jolly sort of book. And I agree it's important to have a GLBT book where the characters aren't struggling with their sexuality. It was nice to see such acceptance.

  8. Is this supposed to be a YA book or just a general book for anyone? I'm curious. Nice to hear books like this are out there ... too bad they are considered fiction.

  9. Jenners - YA I think. I mean, it has a teenage protagonist, so I think that constitutes YA... :)

  10. Trisha I had to stop in and just say
    "heeeeyyyyyy" :D

  11. I think it's worthwhile for people to get a glimpse of the world as it could ... and should ... be. I believe in time we'll make huge strides in overcoming prejudice against the GBLT community, just as we've made tremendous progress toward overcoming racism. But right now our country seems to be in a really ugly place with this issue.

  12. Stephanie - It is nice to get a sneak peak of a better society.

  13. O.K., this is going to sound weird, but I find I enjoy the romantic build in GLBT romances better than books with straight couples, especially if its about teenagers. Because being GLBT can be really scary for kids, I think that it actually is better at capturing how EVERYONE, gay or straight, feels when they are first falling for someone. Does that make sense? I'll have to check this one out!

  14. J.T. - I completely agree. It's like there is more secret-passion, really-like-you, nervous energy.


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