Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It is what it says in the title  two boys kissing (they used to be a couple, but are still friends) in order to set the record for world's longest kiss. It's narrated Greek-chorus style by the generation of men killed by AIDs  which sounds profoundly depressing and is jarring when you begin reading, but the vignettes and insights into the lives of the various kids during a single day are so expertly woven that it stops being odd very quickly and you become caught up in the story instead. As well as Craig and Harry attempting their world record, there's Peter and Neil who have been a couple for ages, Avery and Ryan who have just met and are feeling out their relationship, and Cooper, who is alone and struggling. Each of the characters are incredibly well-drawn and easy to empathise with, regardless of whether you’re gay. I am never a fan of YA novels being labelled 'issues' books  really, whose life is devoid of 'issues'? Novels totally devoid of gay characters are fairly unrealistic  but this novel manages to tackle a lot of stuff and be remarkably well-written and insightful at the same time. It is so rare to read a novel like this, especially for YA readers, and it’s such important stuff, and also a wonderful read.

Originally published in Young Vagabond.
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