Monday, March 4, 2013

Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets Boy
Description: This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. 

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

Stats: Young Adult, 185 pages, First Published by Alfred A. Knopf, September 2003.

My Rating: 4 Stars (A Reading Robyn Favourite)
"I've always known I was gay, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in kindergarten. It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF."
Boy Meets Boy starts off as a novel of what ifs. What if there was a place where acceptance was the norm? What if not-normal was the norm? What if what you're left with is just the extraordinary? That place exists in this novel. 

The setting of Boy Meets Boy is a central part of the novel and reminds me a lot of the worlds that we see in cartoons. This place is colourful, eccentric, and fascinating. We all wish we could live there, not only because it is a place where all things seem to belong, but because this is the place where everyday things are transformed into interesting things. It seems like an interesting concept in theory, but even I was surprised how well it all works. The setting is an ideal, but the circumstances in the story are not always so. 

In Boy Meets Boy, a boy (Paul) meets another boy (Noah) and they start to fall for each other. What makes this worth reading is that normally when in LGBTQ YA this meeting of hearts ends badly, not because of the relationship itself, but because of the society we live in. LGBTQ is normally about the realization of sexuality and the oppression of it, all of which are subjects handled in Boy Meets Boy, but here the book treats its characters like they really are just part of contemporary romance. There are love triangles, mistakes made, ex-boyfriends, a school dance, tested friendships, and dates

I think this is the first time I've read a LGBTQ book where the main character actually goes out on dates and has a dating history. And that in itself is what makes this so special! It's one thing to handle what it means to discover your sexuality, but it's an entirely different thing to be past that point, to have reached an understanding of it, and then go on to live your life as it demands to be lived. 

David Levithan is an amazing writer. That is just a fact. He knows how to take characters and make them people that you know are out there somewhere. What impressed me the most is that he could have easily taken the fantasy of this story too far, but he never does. He kept his writing planted in reality just enough to show the prejudice, to show the dark side, to show what gay teenager go through, without losing any of the humour and sunshine that makes this story fun.

My first experience with Levithan was in Will Grayson, Will Grayson with co-author John Green. I figured since I hadn't read anything else by him that Boy Meets Boy would be an appropriate place to start. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of my go to recommendations (you can see that review here). If you like that book you will most definitely like this one. The style is different, the tone is not. 

Boy Meets Boy ends up being a truly touching and upbeat novel about what it's really like when boy meets boy. It's just that simple.

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