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Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing

James Hiller, September 10, 2013

No doubt about it. David Levithan's new book, "Two Boys Kissing", is a revolutionary text that will be lauded as a milestone in young adult and gay literature for decades to come. That's a pretty hefty statement, yet its not hyperbole by any means. The book commends such praise for its beautiful originality, its poignancy, its realness and rawness.

Meet Harry and Craig, two boys who decide to break the world kissing record. Meet Avery and Ryan, two small town teens who meet at an ersatz prom and discover much about each other. Meet Cooper, who's version and vision of gay life is warped by family and the internet. Meet Tariq, who's bashing inspires the kissing. Meet Neil and Peter, two boys navigating their love. And meet the chorus of gay men who died from the AIDS epidemic, who omnisciently narrate the lives of the characters throughout the story, and well as their own, through the ingenious use of "we".

It's through the characters and this "gay Greek chorus" that Levithan manages to make his story compelling. As the men watch the kissing, and the lives of the other characters, they reflect on their own existence. Levithan honors both the reality of today's experience of being gay in our society as well as the lives of the men and women who came before us. This powerful dichotomy creates emotional, stunning moments in the novel that will cause you to reach for a Kleenex.

Levithan also manages to obliterate stereotypes through the novel. The stereotype shattering aspect of two boys kissing would be enough, but Levithan expands that throughout his story. If you think you know how the characters in the book should act, be prepared to be pleasantly and wonderfully surprised. Levithan has painted with words a more complex picture of people's reactions to two boys kissing, a vision almost of how life can be, and for some of us, how life is.

When asked about what this book is about, one could simply say two boys kissing, because that is the act that drives this story. But its more. Its so much more. In it, I see where I came from, where I am today, and where I will be in the future. This book is narrated with "we", but in reality, it's the story of us.

In fact, this book is so good, after purchasing it as an e-book, I went to my local Powell's and bought a hard copy, to keep for my lifetime.
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