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Summary

Summary

"You have to read this." -- Rainbow Rowell, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park

In his follow-up to tthe New York Times bestselling author of Every Day, andDavid Levithan, coauthor of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green) and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) , crafts a novel that the Los Angeles Times calls "open, frank, and ultimately optimistic."

Based on true events--and narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS-- Two Boys Kissing follows Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teens dealing with universal questions of love, identity, and belonging.

Named to the National Book Award Longlist
A Lambda Literary Award Winner
A Stonewall Honor Book

"An intriguing, complex narrative with an unusual point of view...[and] a quality of retrospection that is rare (and refreshing) in YA literature." -- The Washington Post


Author Notes

David Levithan was born in 1972. He graduated from Brown University in 1994 and is a senior editor at Scholastic. He has written numerous books including Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, Every Day, and Another Day.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

It's impossible to ignore the context of Levithan's latest novel. The timing is perfect in the age of Dan Savage's It Gets Better (2011) and recent Supreme Court rulings on marraige equality, a book meant for young adults features a real-life gay teen couple kissing on the cover, standing in for the book's two fictional boys, ex-boyfriends hoping to share the world's longest kiss. The story is narrated from the beyond by the shadow uncles gay men of the AIDS generation who tell millennial gay boys, We don't want our legacy to be gravitas. These narrators marvel and remark upon Harry and Craig's kiss (a protest of hate crimes committed against a friend), the impact on two other couples at different stages of their relationships, and a hopeless loner in clear emotional danger. Levithan leans intensely into this work, which occasionally reveals the gears grinding the piece into shape, thereby dissipating some of the magic. Still, there's little doubt that this title, with its weight, significance, and literary quality, will find its way into LGBTQ and wider canons. Stock up.--Jones, Courtney Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

It's a different world for teenagers coming of age and coming out now, compared to when Levithan's Boy Meets Boy was published 10 years ago. He speaks directly to this new generation in this novel, which instantly claims its place in the canon of gay literature. As the title suggests, a kiss plays a central part: it takes place on the lawn of a high school where two former boyfriends try to set a world record for the longest kiss. As the title also suggests, this one's for the boys. Although varyingly supportive friends and family are part of the story, Levithan focuses on the gay male community. Craig and Henry, the two participating in the kiss, are no longer dating, throwing an element of uncertainty into an act that's romantic, political, and personal. Neil and Peter have been dating for a year and are beginning to wonder what's next. Avery, "born a boy that the rest of the world saw as a girl," and Ryan are caught up in the dizzying excitement of meeting someone new. And Cooper is rapidly losing himself into a digital oblivion. But as much as this story is about these teenagers, it's also about their forebears. Levithan builds a bridge between today's young gay men and those who have come (and gone) before them through an audacious choice of narrator: the collective generation of gay men lost to AIDS. This chorus of voices holds court on body image ("When we were healthy we were ignorant. We could never be content in our own skin"), family (both biological and found), hookup apps, dancing, the reality of watching loved ones die, and the fleeting preciousness of life. The narrators are positioned as self-described "shadow uncles" and "angel godfathers," but Levithan doesn't canonize them. "The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it," they observe when negative reactions to the boys' kiss mount as it gains widespread attention. "We made this mistake often enough." There are no chapters; the story moves among the characters' experiences and the narrators' commentary, proceeding ever forward in the way that life does. As Craig and Henry's kiss approaches record-setting territory, and Cooper approaches becoming a statistic, the novel builds into something triumphant. Many will read the final pages with their hearts in their throats. Levithan makes it clear that loving and living are as imperfect as those who practice them, but no less precious for their flaws. A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth. Ages 12-up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Narrated by an often heavy-handed Greek chorus of men who died of AIDS, this novel features the stories of one transgender and several gay teens. It focuses on Harry and Craig, friends and ex-boyfriends who have set out to beat the Guinness World Record for kissing. Harry's parents accept that he is gay and are there as witnesses, while Craig's parents find out that he's gay after his mother is told about their record-breaking attempt. Other characters include Tariq, the victim of a hate crime; boyfriends Neil and Peter; and female-to-male (FTM) transgender teen Avery and his love interest, Ryan. Finally, there is isolated, angry, and disaffected Cooper. He spends his nights trolling sex sites online and runs away from home when confronted by his furious parents. Although Levithan has a tendency toward didacticism, his characters are likable, with some more developed than others. The story will engage readers, both female and male. The author's note discusses the true events that inspired this story. Despite its flaws, this title is recommended based on subject need.-Nancy Silverrod, San Francisco Public Library (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

You can't know what it is like for us now--you willalways be one step behind. Be thankful for that. You can't know what it was like for us then--youwill always be one step ahead. Be thankful for that, too. Trust us: There is a nearly perfect balance betweenthe past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future fewof us would have imagined. It's hard to think of such things when you are busydreaming or loving or screwing. The context falls away. We are a spirit-burdenyou carry, like that of your grandparents, or the friends from your childhoodwho moved away. We try to make it as light a burden as possible. And at thesame time, when we see you, we cannot help but think of ourselves. We were oncethe ones who were dreaming and loving and screwing. We were once the ones whowere living, and then we were the ones who were dying. We sewed ourselves, athread's width, into your history. We were once like you, only our world wasn't likeyours. Excerpted from Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


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