David Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing is one of the most honest books I’ve ever read so far and it is definitely one of the best. Showcasing a unique narration by the past generation for and about the present generation, Two Boys Kissing sincerely and evenly explores recurring YA themes on love, life, sexuality, gender, family, equality, and depression, without deviating from its key binding points. Many other fiction books (YA or not) have delved into these similar themes and have attempted to hitch them collectively but, I can’t quite remember any books that may compete with such vast emotional intensity and honesty this book has triggered. When Levithan yoked these themes together, it was real magic and perfection. He touched cruelty, delusion, deviation, liberation, hope, love and isolation with equal fragility and sadism that effectively captures both the quotidian and the extraordinary lives of this generation’s homosexual young adults.
Everyone should read this book. The LGBT community will embrace the gentleness and sincerity of this book that is truly reflective of the experiences that LGBT individuals might be going through while growing up. Non-members of the LGBT community will be exposed to a nonetheless unique and realistic world, which is not quite different from the conventional. It genuinely depicts the struggles of being a gay teenager living in a world that “moves like an arrow” with the hovering hope that it “will get less stupid, less arbitrary, as time goes on.” Teenagers will appreciate the resemblance of the joys and struggles of the main characters of this book, with their own. Adults will be carefully guided into a new generation of an often stigmatized community by narrators whose generation might be more relatable to them.
Two Boys Kissing is an ingenious, poignant, romantic, and honest read that will introduce its readers into a place that remains hopeful and gay in spite of a largely cruel, unaccepting, and dismissively prejudiced society that blankets it.
My Rating: 4.00
Here are the most memorable lines I grabbed from Mr. Levithan’s book that lingered with me because they revealed often unexplored and dismissed truths about life and love that are worthy of contemplation.
On True Love
- Love is so painful, how can you ever wish it on anybody? And love is essential, how can you ever stand in its way?
- Avery considers his inner world to be a scary, convoluted place. It is one thing to show someone your best, cleanest version. It’s quite another to make him aware of your deeper, jagged self.
- We rarely recognize our own beauty unless someone else was recognizing it for us.
- For the past year, Neil has assumed that love was like a liquid pouring into a vessel, and that the longer you loved, the more full the vessel became, until it was entirely full. The truth is that over time, the vessel expands as well. You grow. Your life widens. And you can’t expect your partner’s love alone to fill you. There will always be space for other things.
On Depression and the Beauty of Vitality
- This is the problem with having a barrier between you and everyone else – you see it, but they don’t. They talk to you, but you can’t talk back to them. They care about things like the weather and what you’re shopping for, and you don’t care about a single thing.
- Death is hard, and facing death is painful. But even more painful is the feeling that no one cares. To not have a friend in the world. Some of us died surrounded by loved ones… But there are also those who can tell you what it’s like to have no one who you love, no one who loves you. It is very hard to be alive just for your own sake.
- Lives were short, and we never would have wanted to have them be shorter. Sometimes perspective comes far too late. You cannot trust yourself. You think you can but you can’t. Not because you’re selfish. You cannot live for anyone else’s sake. As much as you may want to, you can’t stay alive just because other people want you alive… you have no responsibility to stay alive for them. You have no responsibility to anyone but yourself to live.
- You have a responsibility to your future self, who is someone you might not even know, might not even understand yet. Because until you die, that future self has as much of a life as you do.
- He realizes: He is doing it for himself. Not for glory. Not for popularity. Not even for admiration. He is doing it because he feels alive. There are so many minutes and hours and days we spend taking life for granted, not feeling it so much as going along with it. But there are moments like this, when the aliveness of life is crystalline, palpable, undeniable. It is the ultimate buoy against drowning. It is the ever-saving grace.
- We saw our friends die. But we also see our friends live. So many of them live, and we often toast their long and full lives… We do not start as dust. We do not end as dust. We make more than dust. That’s all we ask of you. Make more than dust.
On Discrimination and Equality
- There is no reason that we should ever be ashamed of our bodies or ashamed of our love. We are told to cover ourselves up, hide ourselves away, so that other people can have control over us, can make us follow their rules. It is a bastardization of the concept of morality, this rule of shame.
- “My hair can be pink because I’m a boy. Yours can be blue because you’re a girl. If you free yourself from all the stupid arbitrary shit that society controls us with, you feel more free, and if you feel more free, you can be happier.”
- We did not choose our identity, but we were chosen to die by it. For stupid arbitrary reasons instilled by people who refused to see how arbitrary they were. We believe in the golden rule, but we also believe that people fail to live up to it, time and again. Because they fall prey to differences. Because some use the arbitrary very deliberately to keep their own power.
- He is almost used to it, but will never truly get used to it. The feeling that he’s trespassing. The feeling that the world is full of people who think different is synonymous with wrong.
- From all the camera crews, he knows the story is going to spread, and he hopes that maybe it’ll make people a little less scared of two boys kissing than they were before, and a little more welcoming to the idea that all people are, in fact, born equal, no matter what dreams they have or love they give.