Source: Random House Kids– I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Random House Kids
Edition: Hardcover, 201 Pages
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository*
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
Two Boys Kissing surprised me by being one of the rare books that truly pull me in and make me cry. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again I’m not a crier, and it takes a whole lot to make me break down. Levithan has provided a uniquely told story about several people that touched my heart and broke down my barriers.
At first I had some reservations about this book because of the unconventional style of the narrative. It’s told by a sort of Greek Chorus, which are a generation of gay men who passed away due to AIDs. At first it was a bit odd but after awhile it became an incredible way to learn everyone’s stories because in some ways the reader is not only reading about a group of teenagers but also about the men narrating the story. The narrative is incredibly honest and I appreciated the look at what it was like then, now and what it will be like for future generations.
The group of young men that this book centers are varied and not without their flaws, but each of their stories are heartfelt and there is something to be learned from them. Much of the book centers around Harry and Craig, who are determined to set a world record for the longest kiss in order to send a message that love is love and it shouldn’t matter what gender you are. Their story is intermingled with the others in varying degrees and in some cases affects their lives. This book is the human condition on display. We get to see those who have struggled and feel that they’ve lost, those who found themselves in a struggle but unable to do anything about it, those who have it ‘easy’, and those who make it difficult for others. Some of it is enough to make you cry and others makes you want to scream, and I was right there with the Chorus wishing and pleading with some of the characters.
I don’t readily pick up emotional books and when I do they almost always blow me away and leave me raw. Two Boys Kissing was no different. I’m incredibly glad that this was my last book of 2013 so that I ended on a high note. If you’ve been curious about this one then I urge you to go pick up a copy, grab a box of tissues and devour it.