Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Published by: Ember
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQI+, Romance
Date Read: 19/02/2015
In his follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Every Day, David Levithan, co-author of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 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.
This story follows seven gay teenage boys during a transformative and emotionally intense 48 hour period of their lives. Harry and Craig, who are still good friends, but no longer together, locking lips to break the world’s record for the longest kiss.
Enough time had gone by that when they started kissing again, the electricity was gone, replaced by something closer to architecture. They were kissing with a purpose, but the purpose wasn’t them; it was the kiss itself. They weren’t using the kiss to keep their love alive, but were using their friendship to keep the kiss alive. First for minutes. Then for hours.
Cooper, the teenager who explores different identities online. Cooper is not in a relationship at all. He struggles with his loneliness, spending time on his computer texting strangers and having difficulty with parents who cannot accept him as he is.
His mind is on fire now, and it will be hours until it cools itself back into the right temperature for sleep. He is angry at his father, angry at his mother, but mostly he’s come to feel that all this was inevitable, that he was born to be a boy who must sleep in his car, that there was no way he was going to make it through high school without being caught. He feels he’s been soured by his own desires, squandered by his own impulses. He despises himself, and that is the flame that sets his mind on fire.
Neil and Peter are an established couple whose kisses may not be nearly as intense, but are no less meaningful.
Nobody is watching as Peter and Neil kiss. It is just a quick kiss as they leave the IHOP, before they head home. It is a syrupy kiss, a buttery kiss. It is a kiss with nothing to prove. They don’t worry about who might see, who might pass by. They’re not thinking about anyone but themselves, and even that feels like an afterthought. It is just a part of who they are together, something that they do.
Avery and Ryan who have just met. Avery, the boy with pink hair who the world thinks is a girl, and Ryan, are dealing with the anxiety that is common in all new relationships.
It is not as simple as Ryan looking at Avery and feeling they’ve known each other forever. In fact, it doesn’t feel like that at all. Ryan feels like he is just getting to know Avery, and that getting to know Avery isn’t going to be like getting to know anyone else he’s ever gotten to know.
There are some beautifully written passages that are brimming with genuine emotion. It was a quick read and I breezed through the individual stories of young men dealing with families who wouldn’t accept them, online hookup sites, and first love.
What I like most about David Levithan and what makes me want to check out his books every time – even when some didn’t work for me in the past – is his experimental style. He never writes the same style of book. He never attempts to fit in with trends that are taking over the market. He hits you with something unique and surprising, every single time.
We were once like you, only our world wasn’t like yours. You have no idea how close to death you came. A generation or two earlier, you might be here with us.
We resent you. You astonish us.
Even though this was a fast and easy read, this is a powerful, moving, beautiful story that everyone should read. It deals with the past and present. It explores the lives, loves and struggles of a group of teenagers. It shows that as cruel and mean-spirited as people can be, they can also be kind, supportive and generous.
Overall, Two Boys Kissing is phenomenal. And I highly recommend it. Everything about this novel was authentic and moving.
We think of the boys we kissed, the boys we screwed, the boys we loved, the boys who didn’t love us back, the boys who were with us at the end, the boys who were with us beyond the end. Love is so painful, how could you ever wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?