Two Boys Kissing by David LevithanTwo Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing

byDavid Levithan

Hardcover | August 27, 2013

see the collection LGBTQ+ Teen Reads

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about

"You have to read this.” Rainbow Rowell, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park

In his follow-up to tthe New York Times bestselling author of Every Day, andDavid Levithan, coauthor of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green) and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn), 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.
 
Named to the National Book Award Longlist
A Lambda Literary Award Winner
A Stonewall Honor Book

“An intriguing, complex narrative with an unusual point of view…[and] a quality of retrospection that is rare (and refreshing) in YA literature.” —The Washington Post
DAVID LEVITHAN is a children’s book editor in New York City and the author of several books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, Love Is the Higher Law, and Every Day. He coauthored Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List with ...
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Title:Two Boys KissingFormat:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.56 × 4.94 × 0.77 inPublished:August 27, 2013Publisher:Random House Children's BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307931900

ISBN - 13:9780307931900

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great This is a great book. I enjoyed it much more than I had expected.
Date published: 2017-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book! I read this book from my local library at first and after I finished it i just had to have it for my own! it so good, it based on a touchy subject like suicide and the LGBT community. The way David Levithan delivered it was very powerful.
Date published: 2017-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of all time I am absolutely in love with this book. The narration is so unique and haunting, the representation is incredible, the characters are stunning, and the different stories are just absolutely amazing. I carry this book with me at all times because I reread some quotes which have really stuck with me. As a queer transman Avery is so well developed and has more character traits than just being trans. This book is life changing.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can Everyone Read This? Absolutely beautiful prose. Heartbreaking and hopeful. #plumreview
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Glad To See Queer Representation This novel, for anyone who does not know, runs through the perspectives and storylines of 7 male-bodied individuals, all of whom are in or wanting relationships, finding their identity, dealing with life, and trying to be a person. It's beautiful that Levithan is able to include such important and necessary stories--the people who find coming out easy, the people who struggle, the people who will never be happy--these are all real experiences that come to life through these characters (some based on real people). My only complaint is that sometimes it took myself, personally, a second to figure out who's story we were reading. As well, the idea of happiness only coming from being in a monogamous relationship seems heteronormative and problematic itself. Nonetheless, an important novel that can really help some kids.
Date published: 2017-03-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting and well written. I only read this book because it was an impulse read. "Oh an lgbt+ book! cool!" But it was so much more than that. The writing was stunning, and flawless, I loved how it was put together. I thought the narration would bother me, I don't like reading third person. Yet this book feels like it couldn't have been written any other way. I found myself crying at the end, it was this subconscious thing. I had gotten so attached to these characters, and events that happen to them near the end broke me. I really really enjoyed this book. It is under-appreciated. I wish more would read it.
Date published: 2016-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Haunting and heart-warming... I fell in love with David Levithan's writing when I listened to the audio book of _Boy Meets Boy_. Here, in _Two Boys Kissing_, he writes in a lyrical, disjointed style that I quickly realised was not madness, but method! The characters are all deftly drawn and realistic, and they are easy to love, and hate, and love again with more awareness as the story closes. I'm an early-30s gay guy, and reading books like this is an education for me: first for my "inner teenager," who was terrified that he might actually be gay but wanted someone to sit him down at tell him how the world really worked; and second for my not-so-inner writer- and scholar-self, because I believe it's important to remember our Queer history and to tell our stories as truthfully and beautifully as possible. My favourite part of the novel was how deftly Levithan wove the voices of the living and the dead (who are, somehow, still alive, like a communion of Queer saints). I grew to love the voices of the men who died of AIDS just as much as the winsome and complicated teens (and adults!) of the book. If you like teen romance, gay history, teen angst, difficult discussions, and hopefulness all in one package, I'll bet you will love this book!  
Date published: 2014-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Loved the narration
Date published: 2013-12-01

Read from the Book

You can't know what it is like for us now--you will always be one step behind.Be thankful for that.You can't know what it was like for us then--you will always be one step ahead.Be thankful for that, too.Trust us: There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined.It's hard to think of such things when you are busy dreaming or loving or screwing. The context falls away. We are a spirit-burden you carry, like that of your grandparents, or the friends from your childhood who at some point moved away. We try to make it as light a burden as possible. And at the same time, when we see you, we cannot help but think of ourselves. We were once the ones who were dreaming and loving and screwing. We were once the ones who were living, and then we were the ones who were dying. We sewed ourselves, a thread's width, into your history.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.It's 8:07 on a Friday night, and right now Neil Kim is thinking of us. He is fifteen, and he is walking over to his boyfriend Peter's house. They have been going out for a year, and Neil starts by thinking about how long this seems. From the beginning, everyone has been telling him it won't last. But now, even if it doesn't last forever, it feels like it has lasted long enough to be meaningful. Peter's parents treat Neil like a second son, and while Neil's own parents are still alternately confused and distressed, they haven't barred any of the doors.Neil has two DVDs, two bottles of Diet Dr Pepper, cookie dough, and a book of poems in his backpack. This--and Peter--is all it takes for him to feel profoundly lucky. But luck, we've learned, is actually part of an invisible equation. Two blocks away from Peter's house, Neil gets a glimpse of this, and is struck by a feeling of deep, unnamed gratitude. He realizes that part of his good fortune is his place in history, and he thinks fleetingly of us, the ones who came before. We are not names or faces to him; we are an abstraction, a force. His gratitude is a rare thing--it is much more likely for a boy to feel thankful for the Diet Dr Pepper than he is to feel thankful for being healthy and alive, for being able to walk to his boyfriend's house at age fifteen without any doubt that this is the right thing to do.He has no idea how beautiful he is as he walks up that path and rings that doorbell. He has no idea how beautiful the ordinary becomes once it disappears.If you are a teenager now, it is unlikely that you knew us well. We are your shadow uncles, your angel godfathers, your mother's or your grandmother's best friend from college, the author of that book you found in the gay section of the library. We are characters in a Tony Kushner play, or names on a quilt that rarely gets taken out anymore. We are the ghosts of the remaining older generation. You know some of our songs.We do not want to haunt you too somberly. We don't want our legacy to be gravitas. You wouldn't want to live your life like that, and you won't want to be remembered like that, either. Your mistake would be to find our commonality in our dying. The living part mattered more.We taught you how to dance.It's true. Look at Tariq Johnson on the dance floor. Seriously--look at him. Six feet three inches tall, one hundred eighty pounds, all of which can be converted by the right clothes and the right song into a mass of heedless joy. (The right hair helps, too.) He treats his body like it's made of fireworks, each one timed to the beat. Is he dancing alone or dancing with everyone in the room? Here's the secret: It doesn't matter. He traveled for two hours to get to the city, and when it's all over, it will take him over two hours to get home. But it's worth it. Freedom isn't just about voting and marrying and kissing on the street, although all of these things are important. Freedom is also about what you will allow yourself to do. We watch Tariq when he's sitting in Spanish class, sketching imaginary maps in his notebook. We watch Tariq when he's sitting in the cafeteria, stealing glances at older boys. We watch Tariq as he lays the clothes on his bed, creating the outline of the person he's going to be tonight. We spent years doing these things. And this was what we looked forward to, the thing that Tariq looks forward to. This liberation.Music isn't much different now from what it was when we hit the dance floor. This means something. We found something universal. We bottled that desire, then released it into the airwaves. The sounds hit your body, and you move.We are in those particles that send you. We are in that music.Dance for us, Tariq.Feel us there in your freedom.It was an exquisite irony: Just when we stopped wanting to kill ourselves, we started to die. Just when we were feeling strength, it was taken from us.This should not happen to you.Adults can talk all they want about youth feeling invincible. Surely, some of us had that bravado. But there was also the dark inner voice telling us we were doomed. And then we were doomed. And then we weren't.You should never feel doomed.It is 8:43 on the same Friday night, and Cooper Riggs is nowhere. He's in his room, alone, and it feels like nowhere. He could be outside his room, surrounded by people, and it would still feel like nowhere. The world, in his eyes, is flat and dull. All sensation has been leaked from it, and instead its energy is running through the busy corridors of his mind, making angry, frustrated noise. He is sitting on his bed, and he is wrestling within himself, and ultimately the only thing he can think to do is go on the Internet, because life there is just as flat as real life, without the expectations of real life. He's only seventeen, but online he can be twenty-two, fifteen, twenty-seven. Whatever the other person wants him to be. He has fake profiles, fake photos, fake stats, and fake histories. The conversations are largely fake, too, full of flirtation he'll never deliver on, small sparks that will never turn to fire. He will not admit it, but he is actually looking for the surprise of something genuine. He opens seven sites at once, keeping his mind busy, tricking himself out of nowhere, even if it still feels like nowhere. He gets so lost in the search that nothing else seems to matter, and time becomes worthless, to be spent on worthless things.We know that some of you are still scared. We know that some of you are still silent. Just because it's better now doesn't mean that it's always good.Dreaming and loving and screwing. None of these are identities. Maybe when other people look at us, but not to ourselves. We are so much more complicated than that.We wish we could offer you a creation myth, an exact reason why you are the way you are, why when you read this sentence, you will know it's about you. But we don't know how it began. We barely understood the time that we knew. We gather the things we learned, and they don't nearly add up to fill the space of a life.You will miss the taste of Froot Loops.You will miss the sound of traffic.You will miss your back against his.You will even miss him stealing the sheets.Do not ignore these things.

Editorial Reviews

“There are more than two boys kissing in this book, and every one of them will reach your heart. You have to read this.” - Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park “Remarkable.” - Frank Bruni, The New York TimesEntertainment Weekly, August 21, 2013:"Author David Levithan's poignant novel follows the stories of gay teens joined through an unconventional protest. A-" The Washington Post, August 20, 2013:"Over the years, Levithan has consistently explored new creative territory...'Two Boys Kissing' reveals his command of an intriguing, complex narrative with an unusual point of view: the first-person plural. This 'we' is the combined voice of men who died during the AIDS pandemic several decades ago. As the boys’ stories become more closely entwined and connect in a satisfying finale, the reflections of these 'shadow uncles' lend a quality of retrospection that is rare (and refreshing) in YA literature."The Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2013:"Open, frank and ultimately optimistic."The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy, October 24, 2013:"'Two Boys Kissing’ couldn’t have arrived at a more timely moment, just months after the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. The shift in society’s attitudes towards the LGBT community has long been embraced by many in the young adult crowd. Levithan seems to intuitively understand this generation—and his new book allows him to bring their particular struggles and joys to life."Newsday, August 21, 2013:"We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, goes an oft-paraphrased line. David Levithan gives vivid voice to it in his latest YA novel, 'Two Boys Kissing'. BookPage, August 28, 2013:"Levithan’s powerful, multifaceted novel explores just how far things have come for many gay teens—and how far things still need to go."Starred Review, The Bulletin, September 2013:"Both celebratory and elegiac… There’s much to discuss here about identity, about social media, about community—and it would be a particularly stellar choice for a multi-generational LGTBQ-focused book club.” Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2013:"A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth.""No one does heart-pulling emotion like Levithan, and this book, coming a decade after his groundbreaking debut, 'Boy Meets Boy,' has special resonance."- Gayle Forman, author of Just One Day and Just One Year, for Bookish.com"Brilliant, moving, important, and wise." - Jennifer E. Smith, author of This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightWAMC Northeast Public Radio, September 19, 2013:"Two Boys Kissing will make you laugh and cry, but best of all, it will make you relive those perfect innocuous moments of finding and then being with your first love."Romantic Times Book Review, September 2013:"Thought provoking, poignant and beautifully written, above all this is an unbelievably important book for anyone who has struggled with identity, love and loss. The omniscient narration is incredibly moving and appreciative of the fragility of life. A groundbreaking addition to the LGBT genre and community."Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2013:"The novel has genuine moments of insight and wisdom...Inspiring."Hypable.com, August 23, 2013:"Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan takes the stories of all these boys and spins them into an interconnecting web that will leave you emotionally exhausted and absolutely thrilled to have read something so beautiful and unique...Will educate, entertain and move you."Bookish.com, May 6, 2013:"Levithan takes contemporary to a whole new space with this novel, finding new ground in storytelling around important issues that directly affect teens today."Booklist, August 1, 2013:"Levithan leans intensely into this work...There’s little doubt that this title, with its weight, significance, and literary quality, will find its way into LGBTQ and wider cannons. Stock up."School Library Journal, September 2013: "The story will engage readers, both female and male.""The high level of imaginative and intuitive empathy that is apparent in all of his works is especially strong here—as not only are his protagonists fully realized, but so are the voices of the collective narration, whose experiences are as varied as the characters on the page... It is the best book I have read this year."- Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Books Inc. "Everyone needs to read this, not just YA. How perfectly David puts the past, present and future into one small novel. Now, as soon as my eyes stop watering and the goose bumps on my arms go away, I can continue my day." - Carolyn Anbar, Watchung Booksellers"Levithan's choice of narrator was inspiring and heartbreaking. Giving a voice to that generation and exposing young kids to those voices, blew me away...Two Boys Kissing feels like a very important book, something I think everyone should read and something that's touched me in a way no YA has in a really long time." - John Kwiatkowski, Murder by the Book