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Wide Awake

by David Levithan

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4112144,814 (3.64)35
In the not-too-distant future, when a gay Jewish man is elected president of the United States, sixteen-year-old Duncan examines his feelings for his boyfriend, his political and religious beliefs, and tries to determine his rightful place in the world.

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
David Levithan is the guy whose books I read when I can't deal with the world. Like after Pulse, when all I wanted to do was vanish between the pages of You Know Me Well by Levithan and LaCour. Or like how right now, as we're on the cusp of a Trump/Pence White House, I've decided to pick up Wide Awake.

Wide Awake, published ten years ago, takes place in a near-future America... one where a gay, Jewish man has just been elected president... and the equivalents to the Republicans are angry.

This is a very political book -- think Vote for Larry but more realistic and also with a bunch of LGBT characters. It's about political activism and respect for others.

And it's a very hopeful book, too. There are things -- like the treatment of religion -- that I wish I could see more of in today's politics.

Writing-wise, this is not my favourite of Levithan's. However, it's optimistic, and beautiful, and exactly what I needed to read in the wake of the election. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
Duncan and his boyfriend Jimmy, along with their friends, have been working hard on the campaign of Abraham Stein hoping he will become the first gay, Jewish President of the United States. Stein wins by 1000 votes, and everyone is ecstatic – except for the governor of Kansas who insists there was election tampering and hopes to have him defeated. With his opponent refusing to concede the election, hoping to have Stein lose votes in the recount, Stein invites Americans to join him in Kansas to protest the behind-the-scenes politics working to take away the people’s vote.

Jimmy fiercely believes in action when he spots wrongdoing, while Duncan hopes silence will make bad things disappear. Their differences of opinion begin to rise to the surface with Stein’s election issues, and the trip to Kansas seems to be the match that could set them off in different directions. With a strong belief in America’s founding principles of “liberty and justice for all,” the two embark on a trip that will forever change the views they hold of their country, its citizens and themselves.

Levithan mixes politics, romance, relationships and history to give readers a dystopian story that, though written in 2006, is eerily prescient of the 2016 elections. His descriptions of the Kansas rally reminded me of the Atlanta Women’s March, where I joined millions of other women across the nation to march in solidarity for civil rights and liberties. It’s impossible to not compare the hateful vitriol spewed forth from the opposition party in “Wide awake” to that emitted by supporters of our current administration.

Eleven years have passed since Levithan took pen to paper, and many things have happened politically – including the election of our nation’s first Black president. One can only hope America will have its own Abraham Stein to elect in the years to come. Thank you David for opening our eyes to its possibility.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.

Book review link: https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/wide-awake-david-levithan/ ( )
  sunshinealma | Jun 10, 2017 |
I can't tell you how much I wanted this novel to be good. The premise is spectacular, and Levithan is a major talent. The characters just fall flat, though, and the major issue (outside the contested election) never gets resolved. Pacing issues abound, and in the end, there simply isn't enough connection to narrator or plot for the payoff to have the desired effect. An okay read, but not as powerful as the jacket copy made it sound. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
Of the Levithan YA books I've read, this one wasn't my favorite; however, reading it right after Cory Doctorow's novel Little Brother was interesting. Both books are set in the future - though Little Brother takes place in the near future, while Wide Awake occurs several decades from now - and they could be classified as dystopias, but they aren't so far from the current state of affairs; in each case, it's a recognizable, possible future. Doctorow's novel is lengthier, more complex, and more immediate; Levithan's is shorter and somewhat simplified, but it gets the point across.

Both main characters (Marcus in Little Brother, Duncan in Wide Awake) encounter wrongheaded authority figures in their school environments and have to decide when to stand up and when to keep quiet. However, nearly all of the adult authority figures in Little Brother are untrustworthy (at best), whereas there are more positive adult role models in Wide Awake. I could see these two books as an excellent jumping-off point for discussions in history and social studies classes in high school - discussions about politics, security, freedom, and rights.

From the Acknowledgments: "Thank you to all the librarians who care. You completely inspire me, because you show how the right book at the right time can matter, and how the right person at the right time can matter."

p. 111 "The only way to deal with the future is to make sure the present is okay."

p. 137 It was amazing, and it was graceful, and it was that most rare of things - a sound that makes us see.

p. 143 "It doesn't matter what you or I believe. It's about what they can get away with. That, I'm afraid, is the ultimate measure of a man: how he acts when he's wrong but knows he can get away with it anyway."

p. 146 "Yeah, those were supposed to be the rules - but feelings don't follow rules. Guilt does. Fear does. But attraction? No way."

p. 207 When he saw me, it was as if his body released angels. He was so relieved. So afraid - because fear doesn't wear off in an instant - and so relieved. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
The thing I love about David Levithan is that he writes about how he would like the world to be, not about how awful the world IS.
It wasn't quite as beautifully written as Boy Meets Boy, I thought, but it did almost make me cry at the end. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
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To Rachel
(for her wake-up calls)
To Rob
(for his faith in faith)
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"I can't believe there's going to be a gay Jewish president."
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In the not-too-distant future, when a gay Jewish man is elected president of the United States, sixteen-year-old Duncan examines his feelings for his boyfriend, his political and religious beliefs, and tries to determine his rightful place in the world.

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This book is set fifty or sixty years in the future, when America is on the brink of becoming a utopian society. A gay Jewish man, Abraham Stein, with a Hispanic female VP is elected president of the United States, but his opponent demands a recount. The state under dispute is not Florida but Kansas. Stein calls for all his followers to come to Kansas and rally in the streets while the recount is made, and of course his opponent wants all his followers to come too. The protagonist, Jimmy, his boyfriend, and several friends head to Topeka to witness history.
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