Book Review

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy

  • Author: David Levithan
  • Genre: YA Romance
  • Publication Date: May 10, 2005
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

CONTENT WARNING: homophobia, religion bigotry, mention of death

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

One of my really good friends is a die-hard David Levithan fan, and she’s been encouraging me to read one of his books. I grabbed this one off the shelf at the library, and figured I’d finally she what she’s been going on about. 

Reading this immediately brought me back to high school. While some aspects of Paul’s high school experience seemed so different from the one I remember, some things never change. The combination of friendship, drama, angst, and being torn in between your own feelings and your moral duty to your friends were depicted so well in this book, to the point where I actually caught myself thinking about how much I did not miss being in high school. But I would like to go to this gay utopia, where basically the entire town bands together to be supportive of the LGBTQ community, seeing nothing wrong with kicking the Boy Scouts out of town when they endorsed homophobia, and changing the name to the Joy Scouts. But it doesn’t ignore the reality that so many kids in the LGBTQ community face, with one of Paul’s closest friends living in a religious home in the next town, where his parents don’t accept him as he is:

“They think that Tony’s personality is simply a matter of switches, and that if they find the right one, they can turn off his attraction to other guys and put him back on the road to God.”

This was a quick read, but it packed such an emotional punch into just 185 short pages. Nearly all of the characters had to experience their own individual growth, as well as adjusting how they interact with others. Since the story was told through Paul’s POV, we got the most insight into his character, and I think that he experienced some of the most powerful growth, even if some of his actions were among my least favorite to see a character do, he did redeem himself:

“I wonder if it’s possible to start a new relationship without hurting someone else. I wonder if it’s possible to have happiness without it being at someone else’s expense.”

Tony was another one of my favorite characters, and he was the character that demonstrated the most growth in his behaviors, which I absolutely loved to see. Growing up in a home where he isn’t accepted for who he is, especially due to religious intolerance, has got to be difficult, but his friends never gave up on him, which is a beautiful thing. So I wasn’t surprised to see how much his friends propped him up on his journey towards learning to accept and express himself better.

“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.”

Now that I’ve read this, I’m definitely a fan and plan to read some more of David Levithan’s writing. As usual, I’m glad that I listened to my friend and took her advice. She always comes through with the best recommendations!

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