Two Boys Kissing

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Title:   Two Boys Kissing

Author:  David Levithan

Publisher:  Ember reprint, 2015 (2013)

ISBN: 9780307931917

About the author: from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Levithan

(born September 7, 1972) is an American young-adult fiction author and editor.His first book, Boy Meets Boy, was published by Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2003. He has written numerous works featuring strong male gay characters, most notably Boy Meets Boy and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List.

At 19, Levithan received an internship at Scholastic Corporation where he began working on the The Baby-sitters Club series. Levithan still works for Scholastic as an editorial director. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a young-adult imprint of Scholastic Press focusing on new voices and new authors.[1] PUSH publishes edgier material for young adults and is where Patricia McCormick got her start with 2002’s Cut.

In an interview with Barnes & Noble, Levithan claimed that he learned how to write books that were both funny and touching from Judith Viorst‘s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. He continues to work as both a writer and editor saying, “I love editing just as much, if not more than writing”.[3] Levithan’s first collaboration with Rachel Cohn, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, was published in 2006 and adapted for the big screen in 2008. His novel Love is the Higher Law was published in August 2009 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Levithan has been a resident of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Plot: 

Ex-boyfriends and friends Harry and Craig share the world’s longest kiss in front of their school as a protest of a hate crime against their friend Tariq. The book is narrated by gay men of the AIDs generation “from beyond”. They are cheering on this new generation of gay men and and lamenting on the sacrifices that they had to endure while on the earthly plane. 

Critical Evaluation:

Two Boys Kissing is an engaging story about the challenges that gay teenagers face today. The unusual narration is told through the eyes of a generation of gay men “from beyond”. These men talk in hushed tones, fretful and somber, looking in on the lives of Harry, Craig, Cooper, Tariq, and others.

The novel has an unhurried pace. The novel has an inspiring tone. Levithan writes in a candid and engaging style. The book addresses the problem with stereotyping any group. “The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it.”The story’s setting is in a town named Kindling, symbolic of something about to start on fire at any moment. In this novel, it may be the barriers that stop young men like

Quotes like this are a little unsettling: “We no longer sleep, and because we no longer sleep, we no longer dream. Instead we watch. We don’t want to miss a thing. You have become our dreaming.”

The characters are relatable, likeable, and show courage, standing up to the violence and prejudice that GLBTQ young people face. The inner growth of the characters shines through. The narration is unconventional. I was very uneasy with the narration method. It gave an almost creepy feeling to the tone of the novel. The story would have benefitted from a more conventional narration, although I’m not sure if it would have had the same effect.  Said the narrators, “We were once like you, only our world wasn’t like yours. You have no idea how close to death you came. A generation or two earlier, you might be here with us. We resent you. You astonish us.”

Reader’s Annotation: Harry and Craig were no longer a couple, but that didn’t stop them from making a social statement by kissing.

Genre: contemporary romance, GLBTQ, realistic fiction

Curriculum Ties: civil rights

Booktalking Ideas: Have a discussion about civil rights for all people, including the characters in Two Boys Kissing. How were their rights violated? How can we stand up as a community to protest the wrongs done to them?

Reading Level/Interest Age: 16+

Challenge Issues: homosexuality, violence

Challenge Resources

  • Library Selection Policy
  • Rationale explaining why the item was chosen for the collection
  • Active listening skills
  • Awards
  • Reconsideration form (as a last resort)
  • National Council of Teachers of English “Right to Read”
  • Positive and negative reviews: expert, parent, student
  • ALA Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials
  • ALA Bill of Rights on Intellectual Freedom
  • Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  • Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

Why did you pick this for your collection?

  • Lambda Literary Awards: Young Adult-Children’s
  • Library Journal Best YA Lit for Adults
  • Rainbow List: 2014
  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2014
  • Stonewall Honor Book
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