Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
I can’t believe we’re already in the last full week of LGBT Pride Month! I confess that my June literary goal was to read as many David Levithan titles as possible (without guilt even, given what month this is). Alas, I didn’t make much progress in any of my assigned and intended piles, but tomorrow is always another day to turn pages … or listen to more tracks. Choosing audible here, by the way, is highly recommended: Nick Robideau leads a full cast to narrated perfection. As an added aural bonus, three of the cast members talk about their own high school experiences … which, alas, don’t quite resemble the halcyon halls depicted here. We can all hope for someday …
Paul, a sophomore in a small town within train distance to Manhattan, “tend[s] to think of other people as unlucky rather than thinking of [his] own life as charmed.” And really, Paul has it pretty wonderful: his kindergarten teacher “confirmed” he was gay along with his “VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF,” his parents have always been unquestioningly supportive, and his lifelong best friend Joni responded to his second-grade coming out with “Cool” and apologized for trying to kiss him.
Meanwhile, at school, the star quarterback and homecoming queen are both the same person – a transgender drag queen named Infinite Darlene (clearly she needs her own novel!). Anyone can fall in love with anyone, and of course, they do. In contrast, Paul’s buddy Tony – also gay – lives in the next town, where he faces daily denial and fervent prayers.
Being a teenager, however, isn’t always charming, regardless of Paul’s utopic support system. Madly crushing over new boy Noah is enough to take his breath away, but now his whole universe seems to be imploding: Joni and Ted are on their 12th breakup, and Joni couldn’t have picked a worse rebound relationship which threatens even her bonds with Paul; his ex-boyfriend, not-gay Kyle seems to be looking for second chances; and homework-switching sessions with Tony seem to be banned for the foreseeable future. With his heart and mind so aflutter, Paul still needs to ‘architect’ the Dowager Dance, coming up sooner than later. Charmed or not, Paul’s got some major maneuvers to figure out, especially if he doesn’t want to lose sight of the boy of his dreams.
Not to belabor a single word, but you must know that Levithan’s first novel is a total charmer. Already 11 years old, a special 10th anniversary edition hit shelves last fall with an additional short story about Infinite Darlene (I still say she still needs a whole novel of her own!).
In the past decade-plus since Boy‘s debut, Levithan – who also happens to be editorial director at Scholastic and founding editor of Scholastic’s edgy PUSH imprint (when does this man sleep?!) – has more than two dozen titles with his name, as author, co-author, anthology editor. Besides being a legendary hit-maker (yes, Hunger Games, too!), Levithan has certainly become a major voice in the LGBTQ community (and far beyond); check out his recent thoughts on “LGBT Books for the Young” for Associated Press. That said, for all readers regardless of age, let me repeat – both novel and author are irrepressible, irresistible charmers.
Readers: Young Adult
Published: 2003, 2013 (updated 10th anniversary edition)