Banned Book Club (BBC) is a meme I host where we read one historically challenged book a month, in an effort to support free speech. August’s BoTM is Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan.
Banned for: The cover image of two boys kissing, including “sexually explicit LGBT content”, condoning public displays of affection.
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
What. An. Absolutely. Stunning. Book!
Two Boys Kissing is the story of Harry and Craig, exes who decide to partake in a 32-hour marathon of kissing in order to break the previous Guinness World Record. It is their way of making a statement about inclusivity after their friend gets attacked by homophobes.
In addition to Harry and Craig, there are other teen boys at different stages of coming to terms with being gay, including blue-haired Ryan and pink-haired Avery who meet at a gay prom, Cooper, who’s on the verge of a breakdown because his family won’t accept him, and Peter and Neil, a long-term couple navigating through their own relationships, both with themselves and with their parents.
The best part about this novel is the narrator–the generation of gay men lost to AIDs. I didn’t know this going into the novel, which made the narration all the more powerful to me. Only a few pages in did I understand they were a Greek chorus of lost gay men from back when homosexuality wasn’t as accepted as today.
Two Boys Kissing is a painfully relatable book about being young and questioning not just your identity but your life in general. It’s written in lyrical prose, the kind that makes you want to write poetry. The omniscient narrators serve up such beautiful lines, the coldest of readers will tear up.
I usually read my Banned Book Club BoTMs only at the end of the month, but this time I just couldn’t wait. I started it right away and I’m so glad I did, because it’s a brilliant, powerful, moving novel I will be recommending to readers for years to come.
As a frequent reader, you’re pretty much used to all kinds of books. But occasionally, you come across one genre-defining book that makes you pause with how powerful, how life-altering it is. Two Boys Kissing is one such book.Tweet
Rating: 5 out of 5
“Love is so painful, how could you ever wish it on anybody? And love is so essential, how could you ever stand in its way?”
“He has no idea how beautiful the ordinary becomes once it disappears.”
“There is the sudden. There is the eventual. And in between, there is the living.”
“Pink is female – but why? Are girls any more pink than boys? Are boys any more blue than girls? It’s something that has been sold to us, mostly so other things can be sold to us.”