Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan

Oh my, this is hard. Why? Well, because if I read this little over a year ago, it would have been a solid five star, but right now it is really a strong three star, so I'll make it a four.

The thing is, this book is more than a story of a couple of boys in the big picture. It's also a statement about gender roles, about love, about acceptance. I enjoyed the characters, all of them. I loved seeing a piece of all their issues with being gay, being out, handling both old and new loves. They are everyday characters and their issues really should be more common to discuss for they aren't different from anyone else. And even if their lives are relatively simple, they are at the same time not due to social norms where being gay yet is not fully accepted.

The story is about people who have died when the AIDS spread watching the young ones today, and they think back on their own times as well as how the new world looks. It's strong. It's powerful. It's honest. Perfect, everything I want from this kind of story. It's also a story written by David Levithan, one of my favorite authors. I could probably marry his words alone. His way of writing, making his points, is beautiful and touching. I've read few authors, in my opinion, which have done this like Levithan does. 

However, this is 2014, and I did read other things before this. Among these books was a Swedish series by Jonas Gardell called Torka Aldrig Tårar Utan Handskar translated: Never Dry Tears Without Gloves (rather roughly). I'll be honest, this series is brutal. It is something between a documentary and a novel, as the author have created the story based on true events when AIDS spread to Sweden in the eighties. It's almost painful to read, it's that honest. It's a shame it's not translated into English for I can't describe with just words exactly what those books did to me, how they affected me as a person or how they changed my view on love and acceptance in general. Therefore, many of the things Levithan writes in his books aren't new ideas or reflections to me, for many of them I had already written and been touched by. I believe anyone reading Two Boys Kissing will see these words and be affected by them, but I was not, hence the strong three star rating. At the same time, I know what these statements would have meant to me had I read this first, therefore making a four star rating.

Do I believe this is something more than just a novel? Yes. A million times yes. Would I recommend it? In a heartbeat. But, it was not that much of an eyeopener to me personally. There were some moments where I had to take a stop to be in awe of the way Levithan puts complex ideas into the simplest of words. I'd reread a paragraph, soaking in the words of wisdom, knowing something small inside me latched into place. I'll be happy to read this book again and again for his writing skills alone. I'll also be happy to recommend it over and over again.