The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. They’re hoping to set the world’s record for longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be.
Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different.
Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Both of them worry that something will go wrong.
Cooper is alone. It’s getting to the point where he doesn’t really feel things anymore.
These boys, along with their friends and families, form a tapestry that will reveal love of all kids: open and eager, tentative and cautious, pained and scared. New York Times bestselling author David Levithan has sewn together their lives into a redemptive whole that will captivate, illuminate, and move readers.
David Levithan hasn’t disappointed me yet. I’ve also read Every Day, and Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored by Rachel Cohn) and they’ve all been enjoyable reads. Out of the three, Two Boys Kissing was probably the one that affected me the most. It is important, poignant and touching. I heard, after finishing the book, that Two Boys Kissing is a thematic companion to David Levithan’s debut novel, Boy Meets Boy, so I’ll have to check that out soon.
Two Boys Kissing is an interesting book that is narrated by a generation of gay men who have lost their lives to AIDS. In this book, this group of men are watching some gay boys as they go through their ordinary lives, doing mundane things and spectacular, inspirational things. In his author’s note at the end of the book, David Levithan has mentioned that the book is about the generation of gay men that came before him looking at the generation of gay men that came after him.
I loved how this book was narrated. We get to see into the lives of all of these boys from the perspective of the ghosts (I guess), but we also get to see their thoughts on the differences between being gay then and being gay now. I thought this type of narration was very effective and the book definitely wouldn’t have been as good if it hadn’t been narrated this way. It kind of reminded me of After Dark by Haruki Murakami, which I read recently. These are both books written from the perspectives of some all-seeing and all-knowing beings, watching over ordinary individuals doing ordinary things. I have to admit though, that going into the book, I wasn’t aware of how this book was narrated. So I had a very hard time getting through the first couple of pages because I was just so confused. Once I got past that, I was in love.
The pace of the book is definitely very slow and the whole book covers about 2 days in the lives of these boys. There are also no chapters in this book – it is written all in one long chapter, with section breaks marking a change in scene. While there is a main plot that runs throughout the story, it was almost like 4 different stories coming together into one. In some ways, I feel like the plot wasn’t an important aspect of the book. The novel places more emphasis on the comparing and contrasting of these boys – what it means to them to be gay and what it means to them to have friends and family who support them. David Levithan covers a lot of different aspects of homosexuality, from learning to accept who you are to coming out to others, meeting new guys, maintaining relationships, and having others accept you and acknowledge you. I don’t think I can express all my thoughts on this book. It was just incredibly insightful and meaningful.
This book deals with deeper and heavier issues such as homophobia, shame and suicide. It is definitely a more mature book, so I wouldn’t recommend this to a younger audience. I do think it’s important for teenagers to read it though, because this is a groundbreaking book. And it could definitely help everyone understand homosexuality a bit better, regardless of whether you’re gay or straight.
I know this review was a little bit vague, but I think it’s definitely one that you need to read and discover its meaning for yourself. But if I haven’t convinced you to pick it up yet, I’d like to end with a quick excerpt of one of my favourite scenes in the book:
“No.” Neil tries to keep control of his voice. “I don’t need you to say you’re sorry. I need you to say that I’m gay.”
Neil’s mother grunts and looks at his father. You deal with this.
“Neil,” he says, “is everything okay? Why are you acting this way?”
“Just say it. Please. Just say it.”
It’s Miranda who speaks up. “You’re gay,” she says, with complete seriousness. “And I love you.”
Tears spring to Neil’s eyes. “Thank you, Miranda,” he says. Then he looks to his parents.