Category: Romance


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.

Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper
ISBN-13: 978-0689842092
Simon Pulse, New York, 1999
320 p.

GENRE: General Fiction, Romance

TEASER: Can Romi and Julio avoid ending up like Shakespeare’s tragic couple?

SUMMARY: Romiette (Romi) Cappelle has been having dreams of drowning in water and fire. She meets Julio Montague in a chat room and they instantly hit it off. Julio has just moved to Cincinnati from Corpus Christi, Texas because of gang problems. In these dreams, there is the voice of a young man she does not recognize calling her. The evildoer, a local gang, opposes the relationship between Romi and Julio. They threaten the couple to break it off. Now Romi, Julio, and their friends must find a way for them to not end up like the classic couple in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

CRITIQUE: The story is told in third-person perspective and it is switched off mainly between Romi and Julio. However, there are instances where the story is told from outside the couple’s perspective. Unsurprisingly, the main theme and conflict in this book deals with the problems faced by biracial couples. they face challenges from a local gang and even their parents. Julio’s father doesn’t approve of his son’s relationship with Romiette because his first lover was killed by African-American gang members.

i appreciated that the story was not a mirror image of the original tale. I liked that they were learning about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet while their own story unfolds. I am not a fan of sappy romances so some of the book felt a little too cheesy for me. However, regardless of my personal feelings towards it, I feel it the language wasn’t overly flowery or romantic considering that it is a romance about star-crossed lovers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon M. Draper is an African-American New York Times bestselling author and teacher. She began writing after a student asked her to submit an essay to a magazine contest. She was awarded $5000 and her story One Small Touch was published. She describes herself as a creator, visionary, and poet.

Draper has won numerous awards for her work. She is a five-time winner of the Coretta Scot King Literary Award. She has also been honored as the National Teacher of the Year.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://sharondraper.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some people might object to the gang violence in this novel.

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

CURRICULUM TIES: Shakespearian Literature

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: How do you feel this retelling stands up to the original Shakespearian tragedy?

Do you feel that the ending was the right choice for a modern retelling given the outcome of the original tale?

WHY INCLUDED: I chose this book because I love redone classics. I feel that it is a great way for teachers and librarians to get teens to relate to the literature. I also admire that it is about the problems faced by biracial relationships.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
by Ally Carter
ISBN-13: 978-1423100041
Hyperion Books, New York, 2007
288 p.

GENRE: Chick-lit, Espionage, Romance

TEASER: Being a spy in training is easy. Trying to convince the boy of her dreams that she is a normal teenage girl may prove impossible.

SUMMARY: Cammie (Chameleon) Morgan is a fifteen-year-old student at Gallagher Academy, a top-secret boarding school for spies. Here students are taught how to deactivate a bomb using tweezers and a hair pin, speak fifteen languages, and kill a man in several different ways. On a practice mission, Cammie meets a boy, a normal boy. Now Cammie has her toughest assignment yet, pretend to be a normal teenage girl. How long can she juggle a double life and can she keep Josh from finding out who she really is?

CRITIQUE: This is a fun, light read. There is not a lot of diversity or development of the characters. Cammie shows some development throughout as she debates whether she has what it takes to be a real spy ad continue onto the more advanced training. She slowly gains more confidence in her abilities as a spy and her self image as a teenage girl. Cammie’s character is very relatable. She is smart and confident in her abilities as a spy but completely self conscious about how other people see her. There isn’t much complexities for the other characters. Carter gives you the feeling that Joe’s Solomon is hiding something. There are also brief hints of her mother’s inner feelings. She is normally seen as always put together and calm, but Cammie catches her crying alone at one point on her father’s birthday. I have a feeling that more of the characters will develop as the series continues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ally Carter is a pen name. She is very protective about any information pertaining to he identity. After countless letters from fans wanting to write reports she finally decided to release some biographical information. She was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a farmer and rancher. She admits to being very active in high school organizations.

She has degrees from Oklahoma State University and Cornell University. She is the bestselling author of the Gallagher series and the Heist Society series. Her books have been published in over twenty countries.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://allycarter.com/

READING LEVEL: 13+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: N/A

DEFENSE: N/A

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Joe Solomon is the new teacher keeping everyone on their toes. Do you think he is hiding something? Do you think it has something to do with Cammie’s father?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a spy novel for girls. We can’t let the boys have all the fun now can we?