I’ve recently read an awesome book that I think you should read too. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. The title is perfect, the entire book circles around two boys kissing. Honestly, when I first heard of it, it didn’t interest me at all. But then my library purchased it and put it out on the shelves. The cover clearly shows two boys kissing. In case you are new, I live in the Bible belt of Georgia. These kinds of things can cause a bit of a stir. So I thought I’d check it out. Boy, am I glad I did. Whatever causes you to pick this book up, please do so.
The book is narrated by the generation of men that were lost due to the AIDS epidemic. They tell their story as well as a variety others. The center of the story is an attempt by two 17-year old boys to break the Guinness World record for longest kiss. Their efforts go viral gathering attention of supporters and detractors. We learn their stories and experiences as well. Some other stories we learn are the gay teens who form their own prom, a young man who explores his sexuality with “hook up” sites, and a long time -by teen standards- gay couple who struggle with the changing dimensions of their relationship.
As with any outstanding writing, the story is powerful and thought provoking. No matter your personal beliefs, the identity struggles that occur are powerful and frequently painful. There are a few scenes that I carry with me now, weeks later. These are singled out due to my experience. With so much rich content, I’m certain there are so many others that will become part of who you are as well.
Many of the boys struggle with disclosing their sexuality to their families. Some become demanding, requiring them to say it and accept it immediately. The narrators point out the boys emphasis upon that moment. The moment that they reveal their true selves. They put so much emphasis upon their own experience in that moment, their emotion, their relief, their announcement. They own that moment. The experience of those to whom they reveal is secondary. In that moment only pure acceptance is what is desired.
Another teen explores his sexuality on internet hook up sites. Exploring in secret, through anonymous sites, drives this teen to undervalue himself and his body. The anger of his parents in this behavior only triggers a tragic series of events that is gritty and heart-wrenching. This is one example of the universal appeal of high quality writing. This family’s experience is one that any could fall into when teens of either sex undervalue themselves, believing that sexuality is just what you do with your body as an object.
Another scene that will stay with me occurs at an abandoned mini-golf course. The sub-characters stay with me. Levithan doesn’t blame the boys that hurl hate and bottles at the boys. He instead addresses their humanity. Boys acting out in accordance with expected behavior instead of an inner sense of right or wrong. As a parent of a teen, having your child fall on either side of this exchange would be painful.
Ugh! This book talk could go on literally forever and I would only scratch the surface. The book is rich with extraordinary thought provoking content. Read it. Allow your teens to read it. One scene, previously mentioned, is gritty and a bit graphic more in an emotional sense then in a physical one. For this reason I would recommend this for 15 or above – but others say 12. I was the last in the school to allow Hunger Games so use your judgement not mine.
And now for a recipe… PANCAKES!! Read the book, you’ll know why. We’re still homeless due to a relocation, so I won’t be cooking these up in our hotel room 😦 The underwriters for the buyers of our home are disorganized leaving us displaced – which I’ll leave that rant for them. Just pray they pull themselves together & eat pancakes. Click the link below for some great ones. I don’t think there’s anything better than an Amish pancake.