8 Rated Books Book Reviews

I LOVE this book: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan (It’s National Coming Out Day, folks!)

Today is National Coming Out Day (NCOD) in the UK (celebrated yesterday in the US). NCOD was established in 1988 as a day to celebrate coming out, to further discussion and increase awareness about GLBT issues. This is just as important today as it was back in 1988 and will continue be important until there is equality in all areas; until kids don’t kill themselves because of anti-gay bullying; until people can just be.

As an individual, you can be a part of NCOD by accepting and supporting the LGBT people in your life, by supporting LGBT rights, and by simply being aware. As a blogger, you can buy LGBT books, talk about them, review them; you can visit several other blogs which are talking about LGBT issues today, this week (like Dear Author, which is giving away 125 LGBT books this week as well as reviewing several LGBT romance novels) or which are devoted to talk about LGBT every day like I am Here, I am Queer, What The Hell Do I Read?. You can go to Youtube and watch as many videos as you can from the It Gets Better Project which was initiated by Dan Savage – in response to the recent wave of teen suicides- in which people post their own videos sharing their experience in support of teens who are going through a rough time. You can read about Ally Week, a week for students to organize events that serve to identify, support and celebrate Allies against anti-LGBT language, bullying and harassment in America’s schools taking place from October 18-22 and you can get people to sign its pledge here: Take the Ally Pledge!

Thea and I are LGBT allies in our private lives but also publicly, here at The Book Smugglers, by doing what we can with the tools that we have i.e. reading and reviewing LGBT literature. Today, to celebrate NCOD, I would like to talk about a book I recently read and loved:

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
YA, Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2003, 192 pages

When Paul first meets Noah, the new kid at school, he knows he’s met someone special. A strong, loving relationship blossoms between them, but Noah has been hurt before, and badly. Meanwhile, Paul’s ex-boyfriend, Kyle, is going through some rough times and comes to Paul for comfort — and maybe a little bit more.

Caught in the emotions of the moment, Paul does something that hurts Noah and breaks his trust. Now the whole school is betting on Paul’s love life, with most people believing that he’ll end up with neither Kyle nor Noah, but alone.

Paul doesn’t want to lose Noah. But is it possible to win him back?

Boy Meets Boy is an utterly wonderful book about love, friendship and possibilities. It is short and sweet, a romance at its core, in which boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy but with several different threads interwoven around its central storyline.

To everybody who knows him, our protagonist Paul may well be the luckiest guy alive. He has known since he was little that he was gay and has encountered no hurdles along his way. He is surrounded by loving family and friends, in a small town that completely embraces and supports its LGBT community.

This unnamed town is perhaps utopian and that may well be the point of the novel: to raise the possibility of such a place existing in the real world. At Paul’s school, everybody hangs out together and the boundaries are fluid. The quarterback is a transvestite called Infinite Darlene who is also the Homecoming Queen and the cheerleaders ride Harleys. In Boy Meets Boy, for its protagonist, there are no conflicts from the queer front: Paul is already out, he never has to deal with parental rejection or bullies at school, he doesn’t even want to leave his small town because why would he.

So where does that leave us?

With a really cool story about a teenage guy and his myriad of friends, who is now falling in love with Noah, the new guy at school. With a story where the protagonist is complexly earnest but not infallible, who makes mistakes and has to deal with them; where his best friend all of a sudden starts dating a jerk and becomes almost a doormat and Paul has to decide whether to confront her or accept this; where his ex who dumped him decides he wants him back after going through a rough patch accepting that he is bisexual (he would rather either like one gender or the other); this happens right when Paul is nicely settling down with Noah and much angst ensues until the nice-yet-slightly-corny ending.

A book where the main plot may well be the romance between Paul and Noah but which is as much about friendship as it is about falling in love. Perhaps, I should say that it is about love in all its forms as cheesy as it sounds. And as much as I LOVED the romance between Paul and Noah, my favourite parts of the book were those between Paul and his best friend Tony. Tony who is also gay but is not as lucky as Paul, for he lives in the next town over, with religious fundamentalist parents who will not accept him. It is from Tony’s side of the equation that a smidge of the real world spreads its tentacles throughout Boy Meets Boy which effectively counterpoints Paul’s positive experience and makes the book less of a utopia.

It is via their relationship that the writing shines and I found some of my favourite passages: in Paul’s loyalty to Tony, how he will make time for his friend like when they are spending time together and he says he misses Noah but he didn’t want him there, right then, because that was Tony-time. Or when Paul thinks:

“More than anything in this strange life, I want Tony to be happy. We found out a long time ago that we weren’t meant to fall in love with each other. But a part of me still fell in hope with him. I want a fair world. And in a fair world, Tony would shine.”

Friendly readers, I do NOT like that I have to live in a world where teens are killing themselves because they feel they have no choice because anti-gay bullies tell them that they don’t belong. I do not like to live in a world where my best friend cannot tell any member of his family or some of his other friends that he has fallen in love with another guy and that he is SO happy, because they will shun him. I would love to live in the world that Boy Meets Boy presents me: a world that is not perfect (which world is?) but which is way more open and inviting than the one I live in now.

When asked (thanks Jodie!) if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, David Levithan simply answered:

‘right down the middle – it’s about where we’re going, and where we should be.’

So, I would like to say to you, today of all days: go forth and get this book. Read it, enjoy it, praise it, let your heart be filled with joy. I loved this book with all my heart, I hugged it when I finished it because it is a book about hope, about where we are going, where we should already be.

Boy Meets Boy is a TAB – a Totally Awesome Book.

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  • April (Books&Wine)
    October 12, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I really like that coming out/being gay is not the main theme of this book. By this, I mean, the heart of the book is a story, not a moral or anything. Like, how cool is it that the community is so accepting of LGBT. I know my college campus was like that, but I feel like academia is sort of a bubble compared to the outside world.

    I do so hope that is the direction society moves in, and yes, I have added Boy Meets Boy to my TBR.

  • janicu
    October 12, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I remember reading this one and it resonates. I loved reading and living in the fantasy.

  • Kaethe
    October 12, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Have you read anything else by Levithan? I think they’re all the most wonderful love stories, because he seems to really love people in all their permutations.

  • Ana
    October 12, 2010 at 11:54 am

    @April – I hope you enjoy the book when you get around to read it!

    @Janicu – Yep, same here 😀

    @Kaethe – I have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson and watched Nick and Nora’s Playlist – loved both. I also REALLY want to read Wide Awake which has been on my radar, since like, forever!

  • Kaethe
    October 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I recommend Wide Awake for whenever you’re feeling down-in-the-dumps politically. It has that same notion of people behaving well on a national stage. Of course, to make it realistic, many people do not behave well towards others at all.

  • Estara
    October 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    This is another great review – showing clearly why this worked and really teasing my appetite.

  • Jodie
    October 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! I have been waiting all day to have chance to see this post and I’m so happy that you liked the book. Infinite Darleen has to be one of my favourite characters, remember that moment where Paul says that Noah is seeing her just as she wants to be seen – sigh beautiful.

    I’m really sorry to hear about your best friend’s situation, but if he is happy with the guy he’s fallen in love with that is a big thing and a thing to celebrate. Good luck to him.

  • Amy
    October 13, 2010 at 5:02 am

    I so loved this book as well. It was utopian in the best possible way, and showed a great hopeful future. I hope we get there soon.

  • Kearsten
    November 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I completely agree! This one is a TAB – it made me want to fall in love all over again 🙂

  • Miss K
    January 18, 2012 at 5:29 am

    I really enjoy reading your reviews of books after I’ve finished them, and always feel so happy when we agree! Love love love this book.

  • Emily
    October 7, 2014 at 7:16 am

    I absolutely loved, loved this book.I love how the community is very open to LGBT.My favourite is how caring Paul is with Tony, I love their friendship.This book is so addictive , I couldn’t put it down :/ I also love how Paul got Noah in the end.its one of my favourite books

  • Emily
    January 27, 2015 at 5:37 am

    This is one of my favourite books. I admire that it doesn’t victimise homosexuals and centres around a normal school kid , Paul, who falls in love with another also beautiful boy.It is such a heart warming story and there should be more stories like this out there.My favourite character is Noah, he has a deep interest in art and Photography, he is very much his own person but, is also smart. He is bit like me except for me it’s photography and writing. I also really like Tony, even though he is isolated from his over bearingly religious parents because, they disapprove of his sexuality, he doesn’t stop believing.I’ve always thought his book would make an awesome movie.I’ll just have to have the book, which is absolutely incredible.Thankyou David Levithan. 😀 <3

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