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Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets Boy (2003)

by David Levithan

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I usually really enjoy David Levithan, but just couldn't seem to get into this one. ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 30, 2014 |
I just really loved this novel. It was fun, light-hearted and overall enjoyable that had me smiling almost all the time. I needed something like this because it really did do some necessary cheering up for me. I loved all the characters, a plotline was simple, but still not boring at all and messages this book is sending are the ones to think of. All in all, it was a great read. ( )
  countingscripts | Sep 23, 2013 |
I have been wanting to read this book forever. I’ve read a couple other books by Levithan (Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Every Day) and really enjoyed them. They are always quirky and fun reads that are heartfelt and entertaining. This book fit that perfectly. It’s quirky, fun, heartfelt, and a good commentary on life in general.

Paul has known he was gay since Kindergarten, he’s had a couple of boyfriends but he knows he has met his soulmate in Noah. Him and Noah are perfect together, with Noah at his side life makes sense. Then Paul blows it when he comforts his ex-boyfriend Karl with a kiss. As if things aren't bad enough Paul’s best friend Jodi has started going out with a colossal jerk and won’t even talk to Paul now. Thrown into the mix is poor Tony, Tony is trying to help everyone when really it’s him that needs help. Tony’s parents are absolutely convinced that he will go to hell if they can’t cure his gayness and he is so sick of dealing with that.

This is an absolutely hilarious and heartfelt read. It takes a humorous and endearing look at high school life and life in general. I was seriously laughing my butt off at a number of points in this book. Some of it is just so outlandishly funny.

Paul goes to a very quirky high school. No one has ever given him trouble about his gayness, the cheerleaders ride Harleys, and the star quarterback (who used to be Daryl) is now called Infinite Darlene and is also the Prom Queen. It is a crazy high school. It’s also surprisingly endearing because despite all the quirkiness it just works so well for all involved. Yes there is a lot of drama here, a lot of high school angst...but it’s dealt with in such a humorous way and with so much grace that it is just a wonderful read.

Paul is an incredibly unique character, he is solid in his identity in a way most people never are. His friends love him for it and are a bit jealous. Paul is always trying to fix everything for everyone, and is a bit blind when it comes to taking care of his own issues. His family is wonderfully supportive and funny too.

There are a lot of wonderful characters in here. They are all interesting, intriguing, and inherently trying to be good people.

As everything starts to fall apart for Paul be finally begins to doubt himself and despair...of course this is when his friends step it up and support him the most. Paul finds maybe that first everything had to fall apart before it could be put back together in a way that totally makes more sense.

Tony definitely deserves a shout out as an excellent side character in this book. He is secure in who his is but tired of his parents not accepting that. He makes some incredibly mature decisions throughout the book and really was an absolutely wonderfully wise and supportive character throughout the story.

Overall an absolutely fun and entertaining read. This is a funny, quirky, hilarious, and heartfelt book about a crazy high school where everyone is just trying to figure out who they are as people and find a way to be happy. This book is about love, friendship, life, and of course all the hilarity that ensues. It’s one of those books that just makes you feel happy and good to read. I highly recommend this book to everyone. ( )
  krau0098 | May 28, 2013 |
In the words of Tony: "I honestly couldn't believe that someone like you could exist, or even a town like yours could entirely exist." If I pretend this is written in the present tense then I can say that I wholeheartedly agree. (I also nitpick out of bad habit, so. You know. Expect some possible nitpicking.)

Reading this felt too out of touch with any kind of reality I'm familiar with for me to completely buy into Paul's story, but this is not to say that Boy Meets Boy isn't likable. I can easily point out that Paul lives in a peculiar town where gay teens seem to outnumber the straight kids, where tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality and cross-dressing are part of the norm, where the star quarterback is also the homecoming queen--the list goes on. And wouldn't it be great if we did live in a world where society didn't judge or treat people differently based on their sexual orientation? Or their preference of dress (drag queen Infinite Darlene, for example)? So I can understand why some people, especially LGBT teens, might enjoy escaping into such a story.

And in any case, isn't escapism a reason to read? I love shoving my face into pages of good books and enveloping myself in the lives of characters. But I won't lie: it is difficult to ground myself in Paul's world because I find the amount of approval regarding sexuality overwhelmingly different from what I see and expect in real life. Everything struck me as simple and thus not quite believable. However, there are other aspects to this story that placed a question mark above my head--not out of confusion, but out of "in what instance would this actually happen?" moments.

Regardless how minor (supportive secondary role) her character is, there's Darlene:

Infinite Darlene doesn't have it easy. Being both star quarterback and homecoming queen has its conflicts. And sometimes it's hard for her to fit in.
I can entirely see why Infinite Darlene would have trouble fitting in, and for a multitudes of reasons... and none of those reasons are why Infinite Darlene has issues fitting in. The narration continues:

The other drag queens in our school rarely sit with her at lunch; they say she doesn't take good enough care of her nails, and that she looks a little too buff in a tank top. The football players are a little more accepting, although there was a spot of trouble a year ago when Chuck, the second-string quarterback, fell in love with her and got depressed when she said he wasn't her type.
(If "drag queens" were removed, the first half sounds like usual backtalk I'd hear roaming the halls between girls in my grade school years.)

It took me a little by surprise. Needless to say, no school in which I attended or knew of in grades K-12 had a drag queen posse. Say if I had known or attended one that did, the group would have most likely faced incessant bullying and harassment by some students. I first thought Infinite Darlene's misfit issues would be centered around her high testosterone-filled football team. How well would they accept a drag queen as a member on their team? Instead, she strolls through halls like a Queen Bee of Gossip and still holds down star quarterback position. If anything, it is her alpha-female, catty qualities and flair for drama that are more likely to make people fume.

As a side note: I think it's great that Darlene is accepted for who she is. My thoughts and expectations surrounding how she might be received outside of Paul's far-from-ordinary town, if anything, reflect my views of modern society.

Oh, and then this happens:

The gymnasium doors open and the cheerleaders come riding in on their Harleys. The crowd goes wild.

We are, I believe, the only high school in America with a biker cheerleading team. But I could be wrong. A few years ago, it was decided that having a posse of motorcycles gun around the fields and courts was a much bigger cheer-inducer than any pom-pom routine.

Paul carries on to describe the motorcycles forming into pyramid formation, etc. So how big is your school's budget, Paul? Or were the parents so enthusiastic about their daughters pulling vehicle stunts that they rallied for the school board's approval and paid for the bikes themselves? See, Levithan lost me here, because the environment threw me off. Is this realistic, even slightly? Not in my opinion, but on to topics that actually pertain more to the actual theme:

I've always known I was gay, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in kindergarten.

It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS VERY GOOD SENSE OF SELF.

What is the likelihood of a teacher commenting on a student's sexual orientation? Genuine curiosity, and I imagine the probability might vary from region to region? My elementary teachers limited their focus on classroom behavior and personality quirks. "Raya is a very quiet child," "she is depriving the classroom of insight," "speak more," "diligent," and so on with the usual, "attend class more often, please." But never anything regarding "RAYA IS DEFINITELY STRAIGHT" or "SHE SHOWS NO INTEREST IN EITHER GENDER ON A ROMANTIC LEVEL." Although.

I recall an odd instance in which my step-brother's kindergarten teacher felt it necessary to inform my dad on how his step-son announced that he and another boy student were getting married. Nothing else--no hand-holding, no pecks on the cheek or hugging. Just a comment he made. Would she have called my dad if my step-brother had said he was marrying a female student? Unless a teacher is concerned about inappropriate behavior, I doubt it. So in short, I suppose this part struck me as unlikely but in the realm of possibility? I also don't think a kid's sexual preference is a teacher's business to report on, so...

From there on in it was smooth 'coming-out' transition for Paul. His parents are supportive, he has (had?) a fantastic best friend who defends him at will, and lives--as said--in a generally welcoming community. While I think it's great for a character to feel comfortable and so sure of who he is, I wonder how relatable this makes him. And it's not like all book's characters have similar accepting environments and confidence. Kyle, Paul's ex-boyfriend, is utterly confused about what and who he likes while Tony (Paul's gay BFF) is the child of religious parents and feels his 'true self' caged by his family's intolerance. In a way, due to inferred inner (and outer) conflicts, I think Kyle and Tony would have made a more interesting couple than Paul and Noah.

When I take a look at the book overall, it is difficult for me to not compare it to real life, to society's norms, and especially when gay marriage has been a hot topic for discussion in the U.S. At the same time, Levithan manages to accomplish what I think this book is meant to (for the most part). I don't think Levithan wrote it with the intention of involving the negative beliefs regarding homosexuality that many people still hold. Rather, it's a simple, sweet story about finding your first love and experiencing the bumpy ups and downs of high school life. Yes, the clash between the book's environment versus real life issues catches my attention, but I mostly find Boy Meets Boy lackluster.

I didn't feel too involved with the characters or particularly attached to Paul, and that's what I often seek in books. Paul's troubles are understandable although simple: he develops instant feelings for Noah that eventually grow, but then complications ensue for a short while as Kyle re-emerges into Paul's life. In the mean time, his best friend Joni has decided that her new boyfriend is the best thing in existence and has left Paul feeling abandoned. It's easy to spot the precursors that ultimately calls for the "Everybody Freaks Out" chapter, which leaves Paul in a "My life's in shambles!" sort of state. How is he going sort it all out? I'll leave that mini-adventure for other readers to journey on, though I must say: I am disappointed, once again, by the lack of depth.

What I am pleased about, however, is that not everything and everyone end on perfect terms. Well, not entirely, anyway. In honesty, things still ended a little too hunky-dory for my taste, but they aren't perfect--just on the road to "things are 95% decent and still headed upward," I suppose. One thing that does (intensely) bother me: Joni. She is/was such a large portion of Paul's life, so I feel like her and Paul needed to end on some kind of definitive terms (good or bad). Instead, despite that Joni does show up for Tony, I'm still left wondering what her feelings and thoughts are on de-friending Paul. I know this book isn't focused on Paul and Joni's relationship alone, but she is part of his life and thus deserved more recognition (or so I feel).

If a layer or two of depth had been added to the characters and their interactions, this book would have been more engaging to read. ( )
  the_airtwit | May 19, 2013 |
If only.

I just found a signed copy of this book at Half-Price.

I'm going to put it on my shelf in my high school classroom and hope that the entire place is transformed its mere presence. ( )
  usefuljack | May 17, 2013 |
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9 P.M. on a November Saturday.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375832998, Paperback)

In this delightful young adult novel for readers 12 and up, high school sophomore Paul says, "There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best." And, as he observes at the end of the story, "It's a wonderful world." Paul has both gay and straight friends, and they all hang out together at terrific bookstores and concerts, and advise one another on the sometimes troubled progress of their various romances. Paul is smitten with Noah, and they are beginning a serious relationship when Kyle, Paul’s ex, complicates things by deciding that all is forgiven. Joni is going out with Chuck, who dominates her, much to her friends' disapproval. Tony’s conservative parents refuse to acknowledge that he is gay, so the others must bone up on Bible verses all week so they can pretend Saturday night is a study group. And then there's Infinite Darlene, football quarterback and Homecoming Queen, who deserves a whole romance novel of her own. Life in their town is gloriously accepting of differences and only occasionally verges on magic realism, in this first novel in which same sex preference is not the problem. --Patty Campbell

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:30 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Love is never easy. Especially if you're Paul. He's a sophomore at a high school like no other, and these are his friends: Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback. Joni, Paul's best friend who may not be his best friend anymore. Tony, his other best friend, who can't leave the house unless his parents think he's going on a date...with a girl. Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won't go away. Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds... and Noah, the boy. The one who changes everything.… (more)

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