August 31, 2013

Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing
Author: David Levithan
Release Date: August 27th, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 208
Source: ARC from Rachel Reads
Rating: Probably one of the most important books I've read in, like, ever.
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan 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.

This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David's trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David's YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

So there are these two boys who used to date and want to set the world record for the longest kiss. Then there's Peter and Neil who are a couple but have some problems because, well, what couple doesn't? But they love each other. Avery and Ryan met at a gay prom and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper makes me want to cry. So does Tariq. And then there's the Greek Chorus that bridges the gap between the past generation and current generation of gay men.

Let's break this down:

It seems like a lot of different things and plot lines are happening in this book which, given the page count on this one might look like a bad thing. But it's not. It's really not. I mean, even the Greek Chorus might sound a little out there and it is a little strange at first, but as the book goes on, it's kind of brilliant. I honestly couldn't imagine this book being as impactful without it.

Plot aside, I could honestly go on and on about how perfect the prose is. Like, I pulled out the sticky tabs (something I never do) because the words on the page were so good and really made me think and, well, even though this book is a SHORT BOOK, it took me a rather long time to read because the words demanded more attention than normal words.

I also loved every single character in this book. The main characters really jump off the page and you really feel for them. Also, because there are so many main characters going through so many different things in so many different places, there's a global feel to this book. You can feel the shape of the world - which you don't really need to because the book is realistic fiction/contemporary, but you DO. But, what's really clever about this book, is that the secondary characters weren't given shape by their actions but by the thoughts of feelings of the main characters and the Greek Chorus itself.

So there's that character/world building praise jumble for all of you.

And, going back to the plot for a second, I didn't know there was a world record for kissing. I also really love romances that are just love stories, not necessarily pushed by something else. In fact, the main push of the plot - the kiss - is completed by two people NOT in a relationship anymore.

Now, aside from my awe over the plot, world building, prose, character development, etc., I honestly believe everyone needs to read this book. Given the way everyone - especially children/teens - are reacting to gay people in their schools, workplaces and communities, this is the book people really need to read. Like, if it were up to me, I'd make this book required reading for middle schoolers. There are things in this book that aren't talked about but should be talked about - things that aren't understood that need to be understood.

I feel like I could keep talking about the perfection and importance of this book but I'd really just be wasting your time. Instead you should just go, pick up this book and get to reading.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Interconnected brilliance.
World Building: Reality at it's best.
Character Development: All of the characters might as be real people - even when there's only 200 pages to develop said characters.
Prose: More brilliance. Seriously. Especially the way the Greek Chorus is written.
Would I Recommend This Book?: I don't like the term "must read" because everyone's different and all that jazz, but... well... I think this one's a must read. The subject matter is just too important.

Wait, seriously, why are you all still here reading this? Don't even think about leaving a comment. Just go. Unless you've already read this one. In which case: Let's talk.


  1. I haven't read a solo David Levithan book yet - I really should try! This one sounds really good. :) Great review, Gaby!

  2. Oh gosh, this review just got me so excited. it's so rare I break out the sticky notes, but when I break them out I know I have an amazing book on my hands.

    And this, ladies and gentleman, looks like an amazing note. May have to borrow this one on Yom Kippur ;)

  3. I've been really meh about this book in that I haven't been sure if I want to read it or not. I know we've discussed it at lengths, and I think you've finally sold me on it. I mean, we have very similar opinions on this type of fiction, so I totally trust your judgement. Great review, girl!

  4. I love David Levithan so I am really excited to read this!


  5. There are things in this book that aren't talked about but should be talked about - things that aren't understood that need to be understood.

    This made me a little teary, Gaby! I'm going to have to read this one at some point soon. :)

  6. Yes, that is exactly how I felt about the Greek chorus. I was like "could this book any more pompous?" but then I was all emotional whenever they reflected on how things were for them and how much it means that improvement is being made and just FEELS.

    I didn't bond with the actual characters as much as you did, though. Still, loved this one and I'm glad you did too!

  7. Well, this book certainly sounds amazing. I can understand why everyone was excited about this one, and I'm glad to hear that it's such a powerful little (in page count) book. Will definitely be checking this one out!

  8. You have no idea how happy this review made me! I feel like half of the book blogs are so homophobic and to finally find a blog that isn't just means so much. I have so many lgbt friends and lgbt rights are really close to my heart. I'm so glad to see that some of us booklovers aren't so bigoted. You will forever and always be my favorite blog. xoxo


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