TWO BOYS KISS­ING by David Le­vithan

DNA Magazine - - BOOK REVIEWS -

This new novel presents a panorama of gay male youth today, un­fold­ing nu­mer­ous sto­ry­lines with a touch­ing elo­quence. What el­e­vates this novel into some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary is an in­trigu­ing nar­ra­tive de­vice – a Greek cho­rus of ghosts, the gen­er­a­tion lost to AIDS, serve as nar­ra­tors. They watch over the boys who came af­ter them – com­ment­ing, re­flect­ing, re­mem­ber­ing and mar­vel­ling at how much has changed... al­though not ev­ery­thing. Ha­tred, gay bash­ing, and the demons of the closet per­sist. The main sto­ry­line is de­voted to Craig and Harry, ex-boyfriends who at­tempt to break the world record for the long­est kiss (32 hours, 12 min­utes, 10 sec­onds). This chal­lenge is not merely about ce­ment­ing their place in the Guin­ness Book Of Records but to high­light the re­cent gay bash­ing of their friend Tariq. Other sto­ry­lines in­clude a fledg­ling ro­mance be­tween two boys, Ryan and Avery – al­though there is a twist. An­other cou­ple, Peter and Neil, have been to­gether for a year, but their re­la­tion­ship is com­pli­cated by the fact that Neil hasn’t come out to his par­ents. Cooper is also in the closet and is only out on­line. When his fa­ther dis­cov­ers his se­cret and re­acts vi­o­lently, Cooper flees his home but with nowhere to go. His on­line con­tacts prove to be fraud­u­lent and empty but have also hand­i­capped his abil­ity to make con­nec­tions in the real world. Ut­terly iso­lated and lost, he can see no fu­ture for him­self.

This is a novel pri­mar­ily writ­ten for teenagers, but it pos­sesses a sub­stance and so­phis­ti­ca­tion that will more than sat­isfy adult read­ers. With a stream of glow­ing re­views and early award suc­cess al­ready, this book seems des­tined to be­come a clas­sic in its genre.

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