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Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan - Review

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Where did I get it? Now I have to confess that I don't usually have much room for David Levithan. I thought Every Day was horribly fatphobic and that's put me off reading anything else by him. But then two things happened. 

Firstly, I watched the film Pride, which, if you don't know it, is about the group Lesbians and Gay Support the Miners, which was set up in the mid 80s to raise money for striking coal miners. It was started by an activist called Mark Ashton, who died in 1987 of Aids. I've seen the film before, it's one of my favourites, but when I saw the caption at the end saying that Mark had died it made me really sad and it made me think about all the people who died of Aids and all the things they missed out on, and all the things the world missed out on that they could have created had they not died. I was mentioning this to my friend Lucinda, who has just completed her training to be a librarian (yay Cinders!), and she mentioned this book, because it is narrated by a Greek chorus of people who died from Aids. She said she would lend it to me, except her copy has gone walkabouts. Oh well, I thought, I'll look it up at some point.

And then! I had organised an Easter swap between some friends, where each person sent another some chocolate and a couple of gifts. My friend Cath sent me a really lovely package, including this book! I couldn't believe it! She'd enjoyed it recently and thought I'd like it. So I thought I'd pick it up as soon as I'd finished my last book. 

What's it about? As I say, a Greek chorus of dead gay men watch down on the lives of seven young gay men in America. I'm not sure if these teenagers lived in the same vague area of America, but some of them definitely did. Firstly, there's Craig and Harry, who are the titular two boys kissing. They're going to kiss to try to beat the world record for it - by kissing for over thirty two hours. They used to be a couple, but have broken up. They go through hell trying to beat the world record, a part which I found really interesting. They go viral, and loads of people turn up to watch. 

Then there's Neil and Peter. They're a couple, they've been together for about a year, and although they really like each other there's a lot of gaps between them which they're both trying to navigate. Neil's parents know he's gay, but they don't really acknowledge it. I really liked Neil and would have liked more of his story to be included. 

Then, there's Ryan and Avery. They meet at a gay prom and swap numbers, so through the book they're just beginning to get to know each other. One of them has blue hair and one of them has pink hair, and I loved getting to know the beginning of their relationship. It was very sweet. 

Finally, there's Cooper. He spends his time talking online to men, searching for something that he can't ever seem to find. His parents don't know he's gay, and when they find out, he takes off, feeling desperate. 

Then there's the chorus themselves. They tell the reader about their lives, their loves, their deaths, their families, their fears, the hopes they have looking down upon the new generation of gay men, the ones who came after them. I loved this look at people who died in the epidemic as a whole, even while the reader doesn't get to know any of them
individually.


What age range is it for? 14+

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? I mean that is very much the premise of the book. I think all the main characters are gay, not bisexual, but there is a trans character too, who is also gay. I thought this was a good inclusion and a really nice addition to the book. 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? It's not really stated, but I am going to give a trigger warning for suicide. 

Is there any sex stuff? No, not explicitly. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? No 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, obviously. It is explicit in parts. 

Are there swear words? No 

What criticisms do I have? Almost none, except I found it quite slow in parts. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? As above, I had been reading a lot about the Aids crisis and thinking about all the people we lost.

What other books is it like? It is like some of Levithan's other books, I'm not sure what else though. 

How many stars? Four out of five 

Where is the book going now? It will be a very worthy addition to my LGBTQ shelf!

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