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Two Boys Kissing


Two Boys Kissing Cover

ISBN13: 9780307931900
ISBN10: 0307931900
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Susi, November 15, 2014 (view all comments by Susi)
The first couple pages had me gasping over the sheer truth and beauty of the telling. The story is narrated by “shadow uncles,” the generation of men who died of AIDS, who observe the young of today. The authority and beauty of this narrative chorus is nothing short of stunning. The story itself centers on two boys, Harry and Craig, former sweethearts, who decide to kiss for 32 hours to break the Guiness World Record. They are the sun in this story��"one who is out, one whose family doesn’t know that he’s gay. Orbiting around these two are other gay teens and one transgender teen, whose lives are touched by Harry’s and Craig’s very public endeavor. One reason they want to do something so public is because of a violent attack on a gay friend. The history the book presents of the anguish of the AIDS epidemic in this country and the level of intolerance for gays for generations is an important one. The contemporary teens in the stories run the gamut from finding easy acceptance in their families to being rejected, from self-acceptance to suicidal. Levithan reminds us that despite progress, this is still not an easy life for LGBTQ youth, but he does it through glimpses of individual lives balanced against the stories of family and community support and the story of how far we’ve come.

Two Boys Kissing took my breath away.
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The Lost Entwife, March 15, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
If you would have told super conservative 17 year old me that I'd be reading a book titled Two Boys Kissing in 20 years, I would have thought you were not only lying, but you were going to hell for it. Thank goodness I am not that 17 year old girl anymore. One of the biggest areas of growth for me in the last decade has been a broadening of my worldview and an awareness of my own privilege. While I understand that, as a woman, I still face some struggles, I need to also remember that there are others out there who are still being denied legal rights. I don't often speak out politically on this blog, but I wanted to start this review with a reminder to my 17 year old self - a reminder that I was, and still am, in no place to be judge and jury and that I am here to promote peace and love, in a non-cliche way. And this book by David Levithan, is an excellent reminder of the struggles that a portion of the population of this world faces every day.

What I really enjoyed about Two Boys Kissing was the idea that the story was built on something that actually happened. I mean, think about it, can you imagine locking lips with someone, anyone, for 32 hours and some odd minutes/seconds - still standing, mind you, unable to take a break for any reason at all? The stamina that would take. Now, why would you want to do something? To merely break a world record? That doesn't seem noble or even something that I'd be interested in cheering on. Yet the boys in this story take on an entirely different issue - they do this in spite of the fact that they have broken up, in spite of the fact that one of them has yet to come out to his family. They do it for friends who have been abused and beaten because of their sexual orientation. They do it to take a stance and say that no matter how much people want to brush them under a rug, they aren't going anywhere.

It's a heartbreaking story as well. Connor's story had me in tears. I've been in a place in my life where something happened to me and I was unable to talk to anyone about it. It about broke me. I wanted to just crawl away somewhere and never be found. Why do we, as human beings, make others feel judged like this? Can you imagine making someone so afraid of what you will think of them that they don't tell you something and would choose to die instead? That is what Connor struggles with and, again with Connors story, inspiration is drawn from a real life story.

David Levithan blew me away with Every Day and with Two Boys Kissing, he once again made me think about being in someone else's shoes. While I struggled a bit with the format of the book, I understand why he chose the narration style he did, but I think the story was strong enough that it didn't need that type of narration and, in parts, it almost seemed a bit gimmicky to me. Still, this short book packs a powerful punch and I was thrilled to see it sitting in the featured section of my library.
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Reader Eternal, March 3, 2014 (view all comments by Reader Eternal)
This is the kind of book that gives me hope for the future of our world. This is the bravest book I have read in a long time. David Levithan is not afraid to tell it like it is, and in so doing, he shows us how it could be. This story is heartbreaking and inspiring and something everyone should read. We need more books as courageous and thought-provoking as this one. I think anyone would be hard-pressed to read it and not be moved.
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James Hiller, September 10, 2013 (view all comments by James Hiller)
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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a_anamaia, June 6, 2013 (view all comments by a_anamaia)
I want to read this so bad, I know I'll find this book wonderful since David knows better than anyone how to talk about all kinds of love, breaking and fixing our hearts in a single page.
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Product Details

Levithan, David
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Situations / Emotions & Feelings
Children s-General
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 7
8.59 x 5.79 x 0.78 in 0.695 lb
Age Level:
from 12

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Young Adult » Featured Titles
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Emotions and Feelings
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Homosexuality
Young Adult » General

Two Boys Kissing New Hardcover
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$16.99 In Stock
Product details 208 pages Knopf Books for Young Readers - English 9780307931900 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

This is the most important young adult book that I have read this year. Levithan combines the teenage plights of the gay community with omnipresent voices from Stonewall and the AIDS crisis. There's history and a lot of heart. If you are looking to empower or inspire a young person — or yourself — this new year, then this is your book.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "It's a different world for teenagers coming of age and coming out now, compared to when Levithan's Boy Meets Boy was published 10 years ago. He speaks directly to this new generation in this novel, which instantly claims its place in the canon of gay literature. As the title suggests, a kiss plays a central part: it takes place on the lawn of a high school where two former boyfriends try to set a world record for the longest kiss. As the title also suggests, this one's for the boys. Although varyingly supportive friends and family are part of the story, Levithan focuses on the gay male community. Craig and Henry, the two participating in the kiss, are no longer dating, throwing an element of uncertainty into an act that's romantic, political, and personal. Neil and Peter have been dating for a year and are beginning to wonder what's next. Avery, 'born a boy that the rest of the world saw as a girl,' and Ryan are caught up in the dizzying excitement of meeting someone new. And Cooper is rapidly losing himself into a digital oblivion. But as much as this story is about these teenagers, it's also about their forebears. Levithan builds a bridge between today's young gay men and those who have come (and gone) before them through an audacious choice of narrator: the collective generation of gay men lost to AIDS. This chorus of voices holds court on body image ('When we were healthy we were ignorant. We could never be content in our own skin'), family (both biological and found), hookup apps, dancing, the reality of watching loved ones die, and the fleeting preciousness of life. The narrators are positioned as self-described 'shadow uncles' and 'angel godfathers,' but Levithan doesn't canonize them. 'The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it,' they observe when negative reactions to the boys' kiss mount as it gains widespread attention. 'We made this mistake often enough.' There are no chapters; the story moves among the characters' experiences and the narrators' commentary, proceeding ever forward in the way that life does. As Craig and Henry's kiss approaches record-setting territory, and Cooper approaches becoming a statistic, the novel builds into something triumphant. Many will read the final pages with their hearts in their throats. Levithan makes it clear that loving and living are as imperfect as those who practice them, but no less precious for their flaws. A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth. Ages 12–up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth."
"Review" by , "The novel has genuine moments of insight and wisdom....Inspiring."
"Review" by , "Levithan takes contemporary to a whole new space with this novel, finding new ground in storytelling around important issues that directly affect teens today. Brilliant, moving, important, and wise." Jennifer E. Smith, author of This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
"Review" by , "Everyone needs to read this, not just YA. How perfectly David puts the past, present and future into one small novel. Now, as soon as my eyes stop watering and the goose bumps on my arms go away, I can continue my day."
"Review" by , "Levithan's choice of narrator was inspiring and heartbreaking. Giving a voice to that generation and exposing young kids to those voices, blew me away....Two Boys Kissing feels like a very important book, something I think everyone should read and something that's touched me in a way no YA has in a really long time."
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