'Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms.'- Angela Carter

Friday, 21 March 2014

REVIEW: Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan
Front Cover
From the New York Times best-selling author of Every Day, another thoughtful and original perspective on the things we do for love. The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. They're hoping to set the world record for the longest kiss. They're not a couple, but they used to be. Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different. Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Cooper is alone. He's not sure how he feels. As the marathon progresses, these boys, their friends and families evaluate the changing nature of feelings, behaviour and this crazy thing called love.
*Received in exchange for an honest review*
*Thank you, Electric Monkey*

I could easily write this review on quotes from the book alone. It is one of the most quotable books that I have ever read. When Two Boys Kissing turned up in the mail, I literally squealed in happiness. I've only read two books of Levithan's but absolutely adored both of them, so I just knew this one was going to be as insanely good as Dash and Lily and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. This book is such a stunning and emotional read. It's narrated by the ghosts of those that lost their lives to AIDS, and we as readers watch through their eyes as they see how the LGBT acceptance has increased since their time, but that so many things are still the same. Being gay, lesbian, bisexual; it's all still treated as a taboo subject and Levithan shows us, in great detail, the difficulty these characters have in coming to terms with themselves and the varying degrees of acceptance from friends, family and classmates.

'I know, strange colour choice, right? For a boy born as a girl who wants to be seen as a boy. But think about it - it just shows how arbitrary gender is. Pink is female - but why? Are girls any more pink than boys? Are boys any more blue than girls? It's something that has been sold to us. My hair can be pink because I'm a boy. Yours can be blue because you're a girl. If you free yourself from all the stupid arbitrary shit that society controls us with, you feel more free, and if you feel more free, you can be happier.'

I don't know which story moved me the most. I think it was probably Cooper's or Tariq's. Their stories are the ones which most display the absolute importance of acceptance, especially from those that are closest to you. Levithan explores the ways in which LGBT teenagers cope with 'coming out' and the stresses that it puts on them. This book should be read by everyone; perhaps it will bring sense to the people that still believe that being gay is wrong. It voiced so many of my own frustrations at the narrow mindedness of so many people still. I have never understood why people would discriminate against someone purely on their sexuality, gender etc. Levithan does an absolutely wonderful job of displaying the issues that this community has. 

'If some asshole on the radio was saying that all immigrants should go back to their countries, you'd pay attention. Even if you weren't listening, you'd hear it. If they were saying they hope that all Koreans die of AIDS, your blood would boil higher with every single word. But when it's gays they're talking about, you let it slide. You don't bother to hear it. It's acceptable to you. Even if you don't agree with it - and I am not saying you want me to get AIDS from kissing Peter - you accept it when someone else says it. You let it happen.'

Not only is this book about the struggles of the LGBT community, it also contains so many morals and displays the absolute importance in how you treat other people. You don't know the background of the person that you've insulted/ treated badly. You don't know what's going on in that other persons life. That one thing that you say could be enough for that person. This is clear throughout the entirety of Two Boys Kissing. I was holding my breath through the whole book. I was absolutely terrified of some horrific event unfolding. It was quite nerve-racking in a way. This book demonstrated perfectly the kind of terror that the LGBT community survived in, and unfortunately, still does to an extent. 

'There is power in saying, I am not wrong. Society is wrong... There is no reason that we should ever be ashamed of our bodies or ashamed of our love. We are told to cover ourselves up, hide ourselves away, so that other people can have control over us, can make us follow their rules. It is a bastardisation of the concept of morality, this rule of shame.'

The power of this book was definitely in the two boys kissing, Craig and Harry. This is the central event, and other characters that feature in the book come across it at some point or other. It is this public display of affection that draws attention to the disgraceful behaviour of those that mistreat others because of their differences. It is such a powerful act, and the fact that it is based on a real event just gave this so much more meaning and power. This book is perfect. Two Boys Kissing is so emotional, so powerful, so moving and so perfect in conveying it's message; to accept everyone as who they are, that no one is less than anyone else because of their sexuality, their gender, anything. I loved this. 


  1. I LOVE David Levithan! I've had my eye on this book for a while but I still haven't gotten round to buying it. Your review may have just convinced me though! Great review :)

    Laura @ What's Hot?

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