02 June 2010
Book Review: 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 Challenge, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,