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_ (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…) and then this directly after, but I don’t know that I can stand it.

Review: Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

 

Ask the Passengers
by A.S. King
Rating: ****
Read 5/11/2013

Ask The Passengers is from the able pen of A.S. King, and while I didn’t find it as affecting as Everybody Sees The Ants (which I love, love, loved) I really enjoyed it. Astrid doesn’t quite fit in her family, her mom is borderline abusive, her dad’s out in the garage hitting the bong and her little sister is playing hockey or going out to the country club. Astrid’s way of coping with this alienation is brilliant, as are the little story vignettes from other people’s lives we get a window on.

I loved the setting. I liked so many of the people. I loved the huge role Socrates plays in the plot. It worked really well together. I didn’t quite buy the mom, which is what kept it from being a five star book for me.