Book #33: Boy Meets Boy (2003)

boy-meets-boyauthor: David Levithan
language: English
length: 185 pages
finished reading on: 31 May 2013

I think I’ve been feeling a dearth of gayness in my life recently, and I wanted to read something with gay characters in it, and this was a young adult book that kept cropping up. So I ordered it to deliver. It’s not very long, less than 200 pages, and it was very easy to read – I had to stop myself from reading it all at once, actually.

It’s about a gay teenager who falls in love with another boy at his school, basically. The story itself is not particularly interesting, as it follows the standard story arc of basically all fiction ever, which is to have things go wrong to introduce conflict into the story and then all work out in the end. Its strength lies in the characters, who are colourful and varied. They live in a kind of hyperreal world where there’s virtually no homophobia, such that they have characters like the star quarterback who’s also a drag queen, and the school’s bookkeeper becomes interested in the main character and which boy he’ll end up with. As such, it feels like an American teen movie – the high school setting is almost similar to what I grew up with, but with significant enough differences that it’s also fundamentally unfamiliar.

The main character is a bit of a dick at times, and he seems to be very impulsive, which is essentially how a lot of the conflict in the story happens. Because it’s narrated in first person, it’s fun to look inside his thoughts as they go all over the place.

One of the best things is that it’s not a story about “coming out”, although it is about coming of age. All the characters are aware of their sexuality already. One side character has homophobic parents and lives in the next town over, and he uses his friends as an excuse to get away from them for a while and live in a different world for a day, but his story is not about coming out either. It’s also not an “issue” book, for example it doesn’t focus on AIDS, and pretty much unambiguously places gay relationships in a positive light, which is distressingly rare in literature. The author of this book was one of the first to deliberately set out to do that. Like in the world of gay cinema, books can be readily found, but sifting through the crud is an amplified experience because it’s a niche genre.

I guess it’s a shame, then, that I’m basically not the target audience anymore. If I’d been able to read this ten years ago, maybe I’d have been affected by it much more strongly? I’ll never know, of course, but even though I really enjoyed reading this, I did definitely feel too old for it. I reviewed “The Outs” recently, and I basically noted with that that it’s aimed at my age group, twenty-somethings, and it’s very similar to how I think my life is, or how I want my life to be. I’d like a book like that. That’d be nice. It is actually a problem though because I find good books harder to come by than films. I did also start listening to the audiobook of “Tales of the City”, which is sort of like that (in fact, I suspect that “Boy Meets Boy” is paying homage to Tales by giving its chapters titles but no numbers). Recommendations for further perusal will be welcomed!

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One Response to Book #33: Boy Meets Boy (2003)

  1. Pingback: Book #96: Two Boys Kissing (2013) | reuoq

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