Post #10: Boy Meets Boy

Boymeetsboy
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Post number ten is for David Levithan's Boy Meets Boy, another required reading assignment for my YA Lit course. I remember hearing about this book several years ago and thinking I should read it, but never getting around to it. It's a nice story about love in that it details the feelings you're going through and the confusion those feelings can cause, but also has a bit of a darker tone as well. But what sets it apart is that it's through the eyes of a gay teenager that we get to experience these things, and while the book itself was perhaps a bit too hearts and flowers and the ending was tied up in a perfect bow, there were some enjoyable aspects, and I really found myself enjoying the narrator. Which was a good thing, because the book is – once again – written in first person.

Spoilers follow.

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So our narrator is Paul, a high school sophomore who is openly and fantastically gay. He's been gay from the time he can remember, and has a hugely supportive family (consisting of his parents and an older brother). He has two best friends, Joni and Tony (who is also gay, but not as openly). He's floating along in life until he meets Noah, and falls head over heels in love with him. Now this would be fine, except that Paul also suddenly finds his ex-boyfriend back in his life, who suffers a family death and, when Paul tries to comfort him, ends up kissing him. Noah sends him a note that simply says "I can't believe you kissed him," and Paul, thinking he's talking about Kyle (the ex), confronts him, only to find out that the rumor Noah heard was that Paul kissed Tony. Oops! So their love story sort of shatters to an end pretty quickly. However, Paul and Noah still like each other, so Paul sets out trying to win Noah back. And succeeds in the end, through some very creative and aww-inspiring ways.

While the love story was fine, what I really liked to watch was Tony's struggle against his very religious parents, who know Tony is gay and are trying to "save him" from the Devil. They end up thinking – like Noah – that Paul and Tony are a couple, so there are a few chapters where Paul is without Tony and Noah (and also Joni, who he ALSO has a falling out with), and when he is decidedly at his lowest. There are also some very entertaining side characters like Infinite Darlene (homecoming queen AND star quarterback), Amber the Club Kid, etc. But Tony's strength turns into added strength for Paul, who uses Tony as his inspiration as he sets about trying to get Noah back. Also, the friendship between Paul and Tony is simply fantastic.

My biggest issue with this book is that a town – and school – like Paul's just really doesn't exist. There is no place in the US (I don't think) where absolutely everyone is accepting of gays/lesbians/transgendered people. There's just not. And yet, that's exactly the town Paul lives in. The idea that the star quarterback can also be a drag queen and be voted homecoming queen is just not all that plausible, at least not in any high school I've ever seen. While there wasn't an epidemic of "everyone's gay", it certainly came close to that, which is also absolutely untrue. And even Tony's religious parents seemed a bit over-the-top; like the author had to insert them into the story just because he needed someone who wasn't like everyone else. In the end, Tony's mother has a bit of a breakthrough, but his father does not, and the issues between Joni and Paul aren't exactly cleared up (or rather, aren't cleared up at all), but the ending just seemed very "happily-ever-after". Which, they're fifteen/sixteen years old so that type of ending is probably not all that accurate, either.

That being said, the book was a light, easy read. It is what it is, so don't expect anything earth-shattering or ground-breaking. It was okay but not great, at least for me personally, but that doesn't mean others won't – or don't – like it.

Currently reading: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway [RR]

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