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Two Boys Kissingby David Levithan
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.
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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 12up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth." Kirkus Reviews
"The novel has genuine moments of insight and wisdom....Inspiring." Bookish.com
"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
"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." Carolyn Anbar, Watchung Booksellers
"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." John Kwiatkowski, Murder by the Book
About the Author
David Levithan is a children's book editor in New York City, and the author of several books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, Love Is the Higher Law, and Every Day. He coauthored Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily's Book of Dares with Rachel Cohn.
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