Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Hauntingly beautiful story of eight gay teens, narrated lyrically by those who paved the way for them.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: March 2014
Publisher: Electric Monkey
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405264433

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Two boys - no longer a couple, but still friends - are kissing outside their high school. But this is no ordinary kiss. This is a kiss which they intend to last over 32 hours, breaking the world record for longest kiss. Their friend will document it, spreading the world to, and beyond, their community, some of whom will be supportive, others of whom will be disgusted. Two other boys are in a relationship, while two more may be about to start one. An eighth is looking for something he may never find. Two Boys Kissing tells the story of all these different boys, at different stages of love.

This is, in a word, stunning. Narrated by a Greek chorus of gay men who've died from AIDS - a lost generation, admiring yet at least slightly resenting these younger boys who have the opportunities they missed - it's a lyrical, wonderful, exquisite book which cements Levithan's place as one of the greatest prose stylists writing today. It's a book that practically demands to be read out loud, the haunting cadence of his words is so pleasing to the tongue. We know that some of you are still scared. We know that some of you are still silent. Just because it's better now doesn't mean that it's always good. It's a book that has me using phrases like prose stylists and haunting cadence because it would somehow feel wrong to review something written as beautifully as this and not at least try to expand my usual vocabulary a little.

But even beyond the writing style, this is incredibly good. Levithan's main characters are all brought vividly to life - even Craig and Harry, whose characters are superbly developed considering they spend nearly the entire novel standing in one place unable to move and communicating with difficulty via prearranged signals or text messages. Through them, the author tells a story of love, family, loss, despair, and joy. The story moved me even more than the brilliant language did, as I desperately hoped for each boy to find what they were looking for, or needed. Oh, and the ending is pretty much perfect.

Massively recommended.

I'm a big fan of Levithan's; his debut novel Boy Meets Boy is excellent. For other wonderful LGBT novels for teens, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Love in Revolution by B R Collins and Pantomime by Laura Lam are a few of my favourites.

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