Review: Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Rating: *****
Read 11/10/2013
I started this as an audio book, late at night. I listened for maybe 3 minutes before my face was leaking. Fifteen minutes in, I was weeping wholeheartedly. Levithan, with his Greek chorus, conjures a generation of the dead. My generation, a lot of them- voices I remember, voices I still mourn. The gravitas and love the chorus brings to this book is gut-wrenching and so moving. I love the conceit, I love the slightly ponderous tone, I love the contrasts with the teens of today, I love everything about this. I had to buy the print book too, because I needed to hold these words in my hands.

I don’t know if this hit me so hard because of my age or because of the ghosts it conjures from my own past, or because it’s infused with wisdom and beauty and heartbreak. I do know that this book is my favorite book of 2013 by head and shoulders, pecs and navels. It’s an extraordinary novel.

I remember the time of the ghosts. I remember them. Hearing their voices again in this novel is hallucinatory and vertiginous. I kept stopping reading this and going back to the beginning, so I wouldn’t have to come to the end. I kept thinking, each time, surely I won’t cry so much this time. But no. The ghostly chorus speaks from such a sore place, I can’t not cry.

This book has kicked my feet out from under me, and I’m dazed, eviscerated, and asea. I’m so much older than I was when first I cracked it open, so much further from the center. I’m nearly in the chorus myself.

Aside from the chorus, this is also the story of several young men who are just beginning to come into their own. Some of them are in love with each other, some are broken, some merely wounded. There are those with supportive families, and those without. Their stories weave together under the eyes of the chorus, and the chorus calls out the little details that make the stories poignant.

I love this book with all my heart. I haven’t cried so much, reading a book, for years. I haven’t followed people around, reading snippets, for years. I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient to read first Shilt’s _And The Band Played On_ (…) and then this directly after, but I don’t know that I can stand it.

Review: The Prairie Thief by Melissa Wiley

The Prairie Thief
by Melissa Wiley
Rating: *****
Read 7/18/2013

Wholly delightful. I found it impossible to put down and read it in one great gulp. I don’t think I could have loved it more, had I read it as a child. The characters are lovely, each and all. The story, while never veering from the path to a happy ending, had plenty of dips and bobbles and surprises. I grinned my way through much of it, and am not ashamed to tell you my eyes filled with tears at the end. It’s wholesome without being smarmy, and fun without being arch.

Forgive me if I’m seeing Betsy-Tacy things that aren’t there, but the fact that Pa’s middle name is Warrington made me chortle.

Recommended without reservations.

Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell



Eleanor and Park

by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: ****

Read: 4/7/2013

This one kicked my feet out from under me and kept me up all night. Dawn’s rosy fingers found me still listening, with Dylan’s voice rasping in my head: “But all the while I was alone / The past was close behind.”

Incredibly emotionally affecting, the only thing keeping this from that final star is my feeling (probably biased) that Eleanor reads much, much younger than any of my compatriots in similar situations ever were at her age. And it’s probably not fair to judge this book on my own situation, but I was so deeply drawn in, so awash in my own youth, and the youth of my lost friends, that I can do no other.

The narration was top-notch, and the writing was stellar. I was entirely engrossed and invested. The ending was perfect, oh, so perfect.