I read this book over a month ago for Banned Books Week. I have tried many times–unsuccessfully–to get my thoughts about it down on paper. Here is my latest attempt.
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it.
The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
This is a happy, meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy, wonderful world.
David Levithan mentioned he specifically wrote this book in a way that would make it difficult to challenge, and I think he was successful He does depicts two romantic relationships; however, neither of them engage in behavior racier than that found in a Disney cartoon. Despite this fact, the book has still been challenged by a Wisconsin mother. Her challenge is based solely on the fact that one of the couples is of the same gender. The description of two boys engaging in the simple act of kissing was enough for this person to ask for Boy Meets Boy to be removed from the library shelves. I am appalled at this.
Boy Meets Boy was an enjoyable book in many ways. Unfortunately there was one thing about this story that lessened my enjoyment. I could not find the world the main character Paul lived in believable. This world featured a drag queen as the star quarterback and the Gay-Straight Alliance as the “must join” club. It’s not that I don’t want to see this type of world exist someday; but that from what I’ve seen, that day isn’t here yet. The unaccepting world in which Paul’s friend Tony lives is much more the norm in terms of high school environments. The sharp contrast between the two worlds–accepting and not–felt too rigid. I could not conceive that these two towns could exist side by side. Perhaps the lack of believability was the author’s aim. This bit of the story just didn’t work for me.
Review: Despite the one issue I had with the plot, I still found the book very enjoyable. The author was able to successfully capture the awkwardness of different types of teenage relationships. Tony’s tense relationship with his parents reminded me of many of the fights I had with my own parents during my senior year of high school. Paul’s clumsy attempts to start a new relationship were realistic and truthful. Even the relationships Levithan depicted between best friends reflect the changes many go through during high school. This book had me thinking that a world where people are accepted despite their differences is within reach.
Ever since signing up for Banned Books Month, I have been trying to decided which books to read. While I decided fairly quickly to read four books to celebrate the cause–one a week–it has been harder for me to select which four to read. Thanks to links from Steph Su Reads, I’ve been able to find great resources to find banned & challenged books.
The first thing I noticed when browsing the lists is how many of these books I had already read. For example both Looking For Alaska by John Green and The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson have been banned or challenged. I was not surprised to find the Harry Potter series on the list of top 100 challenged books of the decade. The number of banned or challenged books I had previously read as required reading was unexpected. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous–which I read in middle school English–was listed. Also on the list was The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I read in AP English my senior year of High School. After seeing so many books that I had read, I began to worry that I would have trouble finding new ones to enjoy.
Eventually I began to find some possibilities that would make interesting blogs for Banned Books Month . I was excited when I noticed Coraline by Neil Gaiman was listed as challenged. This book has been sitting on my “to-read” list for months, waiting for me to purchase it. This challenge would be a great opportunity for me to finally read it.
Boy Meets Boy The second book I added to my list is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. While I have read and enjoyed several of the books he has co-written–most recently Will Grayson, Will Grayson–I have yet to read any of his solo efforts. Reading this book for Banned Books month allows me to read a challenged book while checking out some more of his great work.
Laurie Halse Anderson is an author whose books I have frequently seen mentioned on banned or challenged book lists. Many of my friends have talked about how much they have enjoyed her books. I figured this would be a great chance to check out her work while also reading a banned book. I looked up several of her banned or challenged books on goodreads.com in an attempt to help choose which to read. I decided to add Twisted to my to-read list.
I was pretty successful at picking my first three books. Picking a fourth book has not been as easy. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a possibility. Out of all the books I read during my time in school, I somehow missed this classic. I could read it now and cross it off my “to-read” list, while also reading a banned book. I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block is another option. This book caught my eye several times as I read different banned/challenged book lists and inspired me to put it on my list. Another alternative is the ttyl Internet Girls Series by Lauren Myracle. The series caught my attention due to the fact it is among the top 10 challenged books of the past few years.
So while I am pretty solid on three of my choices, I’m still wavering on my fourth. I would love some suggestions of what banned books people think I should check out. I know you guys have some great banned book recommendations for me!
Posted in Musings
Tagged Banned Books Week, books, Boy Meets Boy, Coraline, David Levithan, John Green, Laurie Halse Anderson, Looking For Alaska, maureen johnson, Neil Gaiman, The Bermudez Triangle, Twisted