Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
ISBN-13: 978-0375832994
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2003
192 p.

GENRE: LGBT Fiction, Romance

TEASER: Paul is completely crazy about the new boy in school, Noah. But love is never easy when you have a crazy set of friends and an ex-boyfriend who wants to reconnect.

SUMMARY: This story is about Paul, a high school sophomore who has been out since kindergarten, is class president, and completely crazy about the new boy, Noah. The story also focuses on Paul’s friends. There’s Infinite Darlene, who is the star quarterback and the homecoming queen. There’s Jonie who is Paul’s best friend whose new boyfriend causes tension within their friends group. Tony is Paul’s friend whose parents won’t let him leave the house unless he tells them he’s going to Bible study or dating a girl. Then there’s Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend, who hated Paul but now is not so sure.

CRITIQUE: The book is written in first person perspective through the main character Paul. The characters are well-written, unique, and memorable. Most importantly to note is that Boy Meets Boy is a love story not a coming out story. It focuses on the relationship between Paul and Noah. The conflicts they face are the same conflicts that are depicted in novels with heterosexual couples.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s written in an alternate reality world that is almost without hate or prejudice. One of my favorite quotes from this book is from Paul when he is discussing his past with his ex Kyle and how he feels Kyle hates him. He says, “It’s a very strange feeling. I’m not used to being hated.” This was such a beautiful thing to read. And it’s true. The main character has been out since kindergarten and experiences very little bullying. While it’s noted that there are homophobic people out there, it is never really addressed as an important issue at school. The only signs of prejudice we see are from Tony’s religious parents. Levithan often gives attention to the conflict between religion and sexuality in his novels. His portrayal of Tony’s parents is honest and thoughtful. They are afraid for their son and they don’t know how to deal with it. Tony eventually gains enough courage to face his parents and tell them that they will have to learn how to deal with his sexuality.

This novel also deals with growing up and staying true to oneself. Paul must deal with the fact that him and his best friend Joni are growing apart due to her new boyfriend. Kyle and Toni also mature in the story as well. Kyle is slowly trying to accept the fact that he is attracted to guys and that it’s not such a bad thing. Toni must gain the courage to stand up to his parents and hope that they learn to accept him. When Paul tells Tonie to move in with him and his family, Toni refuses because he says that won’t change anything. It might not be easy living with his family right now, but leaving them will only convince them that he is living in sin and needs saving. He choses to stay and endure their ridicule if it will help make them eventually see that there is nothing wrong with him.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Levithan is a young adult author and editor. He says he loves editing just as much, if not more than writing. He has written numerous novels featuring strong gay male characters. He is also the co-author with Rachel Cohn of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, which was adapted into a film in 2008.

He is also the founding editor for PUSH, an imprint of Scholastic Press that focuses on edgier materials for young adults.Boy Meets Boy is Levithan’s first novel. He is also the author of The Realm of Possibility, Are We There Yet?, Wide Awake, and Marly’s Ghost.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE http://www.davidlevithan.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people may object to the portrayal of a homosexual relationship and transsexuality.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.
Defense:

<CURRICULUM TIES: LGBT Studies

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Levithan has created a world that is much more accepting of gay relationships except when it comes to religion. What do you think he's trying to say about the struggle between homosexuality and religion?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include this book not only because it has a gay couple but that it is more about the love story than the coming out story.

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