Two Boys Kissing by David Leviathan
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ
Published by: Electric Monkey (Egmont)
This book was in my sixth form’s library, and I just never got round to reading it while I was there, which I obviously regretted because as soon as I spotted it in my local library I was checking it out without a second thought. All I knew about it was that it’s pretty much a staple in any list about LGBTQ YA and that was reason enough for me to want to read it. I’ve read a lot of David Levithan so far, and have found that I’ve enjoyed his co-written works with Rachel Cohn more than his own stuff, but I thought I’d see how it went.
Mostly, I was surprised by the tone and lyricism. It’s told by a strange sort-of omniscient narrator, but that narrator is a collection of people. A generation both past and present. Suffice to say, I was confused, and mostly worried that I wouldn’t like it because the first few paragraphs are quite pretentious and 100% not my thing. Then it found it’s characters and the relationships.
There’s Harry and Craig who are trying to beat the world record for longest kiss. They decide to do it together even though they broke up and it’s an experience to say the least. Harry is openly gay and his parents are extremely proud and accepting of his. Craig’s parents, on the other hand, have no idea. So, when the Big Kiss starts to go viral things become very tense, but they can’t stop kissing. Not for a second.
Harry and Craig were the couple I wanted to story to keep coming back to. Whenever it jumped back to what was happening with them I felt relaxed and happy to be reading. Their sections seemed to be the least traumatic.
Most traumatic probably goes to Cooper, who talks to a lot of people online. His family has no idea he’s gay and when they find out it turns abusive. I was on edge for Cooper. His thought processes were intense, but I think the hardest thing to come to terms with is that Cooper’s story happens time and time again in real life. LGBTQ kids outcast by their families, kicked out or running away, and sometimes they can’t see any other way out than to end it all forever and not suffer. The book would’ve been very different without Cooper. I’m glad he’s here. It makes it real.
Next is, Peter and Neil, who were probably the couple I was least interested in. Their storyline was fine, but I don’t think it came to a satisfying conclusion like the rest. I wanted to see more development in their characters. Neil, I really loved though. The conversation he has with his parents and sister is one of the most powerful scenes in the whole book, and I would recommend this book just for that scene. It perfectly shows what it’s like for someone to not understand why something could be so important to you, and not being able to bring themselves to do that something. Heart breaking, it seriously is.
That leaves Avery and Ryan, who I think could have their own book. I wanted to know more about them, anyway. Avery is trans and a cinnamon roll. Ryan struggles to control his emotions sometimes but they fit together like they were made for one another. They had the best meet cute and I loved getting to see their story from the very beginning, as the others felt more like we were jumping in half way through.
Overall, I got used to the writing style, and even found myself enjoying the pretentious metaphor-ridden, short sentence, interludes. But I still wanted to focus on the boys more than anything. I agree with everyone else that Two Boys Kissing is mandatory reading for this genre, or if you just want to become less ignorant, and open yourself up to new perspectives, because I promise this book will give you those things and more.