Drop your book/Kindle/Nook/e-reader/laptop/phone (fine… place it gently on a table or other safe surface if you’re that concerned). Go buy/borrow/download (legally) Two Boys Kissing. I’m serious. Do it now.
The writing is… I have no idea. I was too absorbed in the story to pay attention. Told from the perspective of men (I assumed they’re men) who’ve died from AIDS, the book follows young gay teens over the course of a few days. While the boys and their situations are intriguing, the heart of the novel is the juxtaposition of those who are currently experiencing first love/heartbreak/coming out/bullying/despair/struggle/ achievement and those who have been there and have the perspective of time. The collective narrator speaks to the reader but there are so many moments when you wish the characters could hear them. That’s the thing about watching people grow up, though. You have to let them experience life for themselves. The novel touches on changes of people’s attitudes towards gay people over the years, but it also describes (without being preachy) situations that show there is still so far to go.
As an adult, I related to both the raw emotions of the protagonists and the distanced perspective of the narrator. The beauty of the novel is that you don’t have to be a gay man to experience the universal feelings and situations described in the book. Perhaps that’s the point: When we can recognize similarity, we can get to a place of sympathy and understanding. Eventually, we can even move past acceptance and get to the point of embracing others, whether they are like us or not.
The book isn’t about two boys kissing. It’s about life.
More information: http://www.davidlevithan.com/two-boys-kissing