Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

September 19th, 2013 Kimberly Review 67 Comments

19th Sep
Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Genres: Fiction
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

I have mad love for David Levithan and have read his last few books. To be honest, I prefer the ones he writes solo as I love his voice. Two Boys Kissing was one I entered with trepidation. I am an emotional reader and I knew this would be a heartfelt journey. David has a gift for capturing human emotions, fears, failures and triumphs. He captured all of this and more in this beautiful tale. Three word review: beautiful, honest and filled with life lessons.

The tale is narrated by “a Greek Chorus” of gay men from the generation lost to AIDS. Their generation was a time of rebellion, fear, anger and loss, but they helped pave the way for the society we have today. While we still have work to do as a whole, each day we make new strides towards equality and acceptance. Through the chorus, David takes us into the lives of several young, adolescent gay boys. His characters, Harry and Craig, two seventeen year old boys, set out to break the Guinness World Record by kissing for thirty-two hours.  The tale that unfolds shows both the ugly and beautiful side of growing up different. From first love to family rejection, David weaves us in and out of the lives of some remarkable young men who are just trying to find their piece of happy.

The characters in Two Boys Kissing are flawed, beautiful, emotional, lost, and hopeful. They will tug at your heart-strings as they share their lives with you. Their issues are easily identifiable and while they struggle with acceptance this tale could easily be about a fat girl, a child with a speech impediment, a black boy at an all white school. David skillfully peels back the layers to these boys exposing their desires, fears and most of all their capacity to love and need to be loved. Each boy we meet has his own voice and I connected with them. I felt anger at the injustices and unnecessary hurts they encountered. The voice of the “Greek Chorus” was interesting. They were observing the boys along with us. Imagine if you will a bunch of men gathered around a television giving advice to a football team. The football team cannot hear them, but they shout advice, yell, “go for it” and reminisce about the good old days when they played the game. I found this voice to be unique, it allowed David to tell a story within a story, and offer insight in a show not tell way. It took a little bit for me to adjust to these voices, and separate them from the story, so go with it in the beginning.

Two Boys Kissing delivers a powerful message of love, hope and faith. Without preaching the author shows us both sides from the families themselves to the community. Some of the hatred they face for being themselves is cruel. We feel their helplessness, their anger but more than that we feel their need for acceptance and love. Some of the events were based on true events. I recommend you read David’s message in the back of the book. Levithan has written a powerful, inspirational, story in an non-accusatory way that delivers hope to young men and woman. His message is for those who are feeling lost, seeking acceptance, and are fearful of rejection. He does this all while shedding light to the outsider (the straight child, the parent of a gay son, the grandmother who thinks it’s a choice) making these boys more than just a label. I laughed, I cried, I became angry and I prayed as the story unfolded. David allowed me to mingle in the crowd, feel the emotions from all sides and race to that bridge as my heart pounded. I consumed this in one sitting and cannot wait to share it with others.

Two Boys Kissing is a powerful story and in a perfect world it would be a part of every high school’s reading curriculum. Once again David Levithan has amazed me with his voice.

Four and half coffee cups out of five
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

67 Responses to “Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan”

  1. roro

    I’m ashamed that I have not read any book by him yet. The leviathan trilogy is high on my wish list. But I think I will read this one first. I’m ready for my achy breaky heart. giveaway lords have mercy on me. Kim you have a talent with wOrds. Hugs and kisses. Pardon for the lame pun( mAmrie heart style )

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Roro for the compliment and I hope you enjoy this as much as I did 🙂

  2. Lauren

    I just got this book so I skimmed your review, but I will come back and read this when I’m done. I agree with you, David is so talented at capturing human emotions and giving you a different perspective. Can’t wait to read this one, so happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  3. kimberlyfaye

    I have this book and I really need to read it. I am a super emotional reader and I’ve been kind of putting this one off because I’m afraid of all the feels it will make me feel. 😉

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was very well done, and while I did tear up a few times, and feel every also had good moments that kept it from being a complete emotional drain 🙂

  4. Belle Read

    It sounds like some heavy content that is handled in an interesting way. I like that the reader gets a glimpse of different perspectives. Great review Kimba.

  5. Michelle

    I’m so ashamed that I haven’t read this yet and I’ve had it for a while now. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Kimba, I love that it’s told by a chorus of people. Levithan has an incredible gift at telling stories like this. Great review!

  6. DannyBookworm

    I also love him so much but I was truly taken aback when reading about the way this book was narrated. But then, everyone keeps saying that it’s fine, so I might get over my fear and just read it 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It is different, but interesting..of course David always puts things a little out there..but I liked it

  7. Berls

    Oh wow! This one is going to tear my heart out, isn’t it? Great review, I officially NEED to read this one, like yesterday!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was wonderful and you saw past gender identity and shared a glimpse of their souls 🙂

  8. Felicia S. (

    I wish that more of these books made it into the curriculum. I think it would go a long way towards teaching tolerance and opening up conversations between students.

  9. crystal

    First I want to say I love how clean and simple your site is! The review was lovely and did a wonderful job of pointing out what you loved about this book. I had not heard of this author before reading this review but I feel some of his books may make it into my to be read stack now. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Crystal for the feedback, always appreciated.I hope you get a chance to try Levithan’s work. I truly enjoy his voice.

  10. Melissa (Books and Things)

    Wow! What an amazing review of this book. I really do need to read this author! This just sounds fab and also emotional. I could really see this as a good teaching tool for schools. Adding this now to my wishlist.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Agreed, what he did was make us look past the gay label and see the person.

  11. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    A greek chorus of gay men from a generation lost to AIDS… Well, one can certaintly count on Levithan to be inventive as hell. He and I just never clicked, something about his prose never quite reaches me, but this just might be different.
    GReat review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was original and I liked how it enabled him to share info in a non-info dump way.. I am sorry Levithan doesn’t work for you. His voice is different.

  12. Jenea

    I haven’t read anything by Levithan, and I really need to change that. This sounds really good. Great review.

  13. Candace

    I’m dying to get my hands on this one. I adore David Levithan and last year at Wordstock he read from this book (it was still being edited at the time, I believe) and I’ve been dying to read it ever since. I’m so happy that this one is really fantastic, I can’t wait to read it!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      *high fives fellow fan* Hope you love it and I am so jelly you met him and he read to you!!

  14. Debbie Haupt

    Wow, Kimba great, poignantly worded review. It’s reviews like yours that I count on to steer me out of my comfort zone and take a chance on something that would not draw me out by the title or cover.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You know me, I am always open to exploring new topics and genres. I love Levithan’s writing style.

  15. A Voracious Reader

    This looks like something I’d like to read. My brother wrote a biography titled ‘Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan.’ It was about the gay community in 70s NYC as well as about wicca and paganism among gays. Very interesting.

  16. Braine Talk Supe

    I don’t think I’m brave enough to read this but if they turn it into a movie, I’ll totally watch it. I saw The Beginners (Ewan McGregor) last week, the story is similar to this and I swear I was bawling my eyes out.

    Much love to the LGBT community!

  17. Emily

    I really want to read this, but like you – i am an emotinal reader, and im not sure how it will go! great review xxx

  18. Andrea

    I’ve never read anything by Levithan. Isn’t that sad? This does sound like a very intense, powerful story.
    Thanks for the review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Andrea, this was a good one and many can relate to these young men, not just the gay community 🙂

  19. Michelle

    32 hours of kissing! holy cow! that is intense haha. And I love that there is a greek chorus of gay men. that cracks me up!

    Thanks for the great review!

    Michelle @ Book Briefs

  20. Sarah

    I REALLY REALLY want to read this book. I’ve only heard great things about Mr. Levithan! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and opinions. 😀


  21. Lupdilup (Loupe Duffy)

    Wow! Never in a million years I’d had though of picking up a book with this theme, not because I don’t believe in equality for all, I just being brutally honest, but after reading your amazing review I will be adding it to my TBR.
    Yes, if the book is written half as beautiful as your review, I’m sure I’ll a have a winner, I’m already emotionally touched.
    Awesome work!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I get it, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up either, but I am so glad they sent it to me. I enjoy this author and am glad I decided to read it.

  22. Sam

    I haven’t actually read anything by David Levithan before! I’m glad that this worked for you though. I was offered a review copy but turned it down. Now I’m kicking myself. Gorgeous review!

  23. Nick

    I know Sharon loved this book and ever since I read her review, I’ve been looking forward to reading this title. I actually have never read anything by David Levithan although all I hear is praise for his writing.
    I seriously need to get to his books someday.
    I love it when books deliver a strong powerful message and the characters in this book sound wonderfully fleshed-out. I must see if my library has a copy.
    Fabulous review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoy this author Nick, and got caught up in the story. 🙂

  24. Christy

    I need to read this!! Like now! I never doubted you’d enjoy this one, just like I KNOW I’ll love it. Levithan rocks. Great review!