From the Publisher
The Horn Book, March 26, 2013:
"Using a diverse cast of queer characters, David Levithan’s semi-utopian Boy Meets Boy...affirm[s] that there is a whole rainbow of ways to be gay."
"In its blithe acceptance and celebration of human differences, this is arguably the most important gay novel since Annie on My Mind and seems to represent a revolution in the publishing of gay-themed books for adolescents."—Booklist, starred review
"In a genre filled with darkness, torment, and anxiety, this is a shiningly affirmative and hopeful book. —The Bulletin, starred review
"Levithan's prophecy of a hate-free world in which everyone loves without persecution makes this a provocative and important read for all young adults, gay or straight."—School Library Journal, starred review
From the Hardcover edition.
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Readers know they're in for something different when the "About the Author" blurb informs them the author was not born in France, did not go to Oxford, and did not write War and Peace or Babysitters Club #8. And "something different" certainly describes Boy Meets Boy, a hilarious and delightful story about one teenager's sophomore year.
The story's narrator is Paul, who, like most teenagers, is preoccupied with love and its attendant feelings. However, Paul is gay. He has "always known it," and his kindergarten teacher confirmed it on Paul's report card: "Paul is definitely gay and has very good sense of self." But in high school, things are a bit more complicated. No, it's not what you're thinking. The world in which Paul lives is utterly devoid of homophobia. It's Paul's love life that's complicated. See, Paul finds himself crazy about a new boy, Noah, but is leery of letting his ex-boyfriend, Kyle, know it. Then there's Paul's best friend, Joni, who is dating Chuck, whom everyone hates -- especially Infinite Darlene, the drag queen who serves as both homecoming queen and star quarterback at Paul's high school, which gives a whole new meaning to the term "progressive."
No, this is not your father's high school! Levithan has created a kind of utopia, where tolerance reigns and shame is banished. But in other ways, the school feels abundantly familiar. A typical day for Paul involves passing secret notes, a between-class rendezvous, clandestine kisses, friendly misunderstandings -- all the machinations of high school that seem much more important than plain old academics.
Boy Meets Boy is a marvelous fiction debut, a funny and inspiring novel, and a perfect choice for stimulating discussions about why the world we inhabit stands in such sharp contrast to that of Paul and his friends.
(Fall 2003 Selection)
Levithan's groundbreaking novel-set in an idealized high school where kids are free to express themselves without repercussions or embarrassment-whisks listeners into a unique teen scene via the work of this cast of young actors. Though Robideau sometimes sounds melodramatic, and the brief characterization of "young Paul" in flashback is grating, these performers eventually gel into an effortless give-and-take rhythm. As Paul explores his feelings for new crush Noah, listeners meet a crew of memorable characters both gay and straight, wild and wallflower that include the football team's drag queen quarterback (played to comic effect by Joey Panek). Suffused with humor and heart, this recording is bound to get listeners thinking about what it means to just be yourself and truly embrace tolerance. In a bonus track, three of the actors and artistic director Daniel Bostick compare their own high school experience to the one in the book. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Levithan's novel is a lighthearted romp through the complications of high school relationships. After Paul meets Noah in a bookstore, Paul knows he is smitten when he refuses to divulge details to Joni-his closest female friend since before she assisted his successful campaign to become "the first openly gay class president in... Mrs. Farquar's third grade class." Paul, comfortable with his sexuality since labeled "definitely gay" in kindergarten, enjoys another chaste yet incredibly close friendship with Tony-who attends another school, has religious fundamentalist parents, and struggles with being gay. Tony and Paul are so in tune that they often complete one another's homework assignments for fun. With two best friends, Paul has support when Kyle, "the only straight boy [he] ever kissed," leaves and then reenters his life-complicating Paul's budding relationship with Noah. In a town that shunned Boy Scouts for the more inclusive Joy Scouts, being a gay teen is no more difficult than being straight. Boys walk hand-in-hand without repercussions. The high school's homecoming queen, Infinite Darlene, is also its star quarterback, and the school's rich-kid bookie, Rip, provides odds on nearly everything-including Paul's chances with each of the boys in his life. Hilarious, romantic, and optimistic, the story provides another view of what life could be like if the world were more accepting, showing how youth solidarity can overcome the fears of the most homophobic parents. This title is a keeper for public and secondary school libraries; purchase multiple copies if there is a Gay-Straight Alliance in town. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YAappeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Knopf, 208p,
Author Levithan's highly acclaimed debut novel is now available on six compact discs. This top-notch recording is narrated by the story's principal character, Paul. At age five, Paul proudly proclaims his homosexuality to his supportive parents. In addition, he confidently "comes out" to his classmates. In comparison, Paul's gay friend, Tony, must live a double life because his parents are extremely religious. At age fifteen, Paul meets the boy of his dreams, foolishly loses the boy of his dreams, and then wins back the boy of his dreams. This unabridged audio book takes a thoughtful look at the trials and tribulations of being a gay adolescent. It is a clean and classy presentation of a controversial subject. Irrespective of sexual orientation, the young adult listener will relate to the issues presented in this titlelove, heartache, friendship, and courage. Original music and enthusiastic voice actors create a memorable listening experience. This story demonstrates that love is universal. 2005, Full Cast Audio, Ages 12 up.
Mary Jo Edwards
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-David Levithan's novel (Knopf, 2003) about high school romance is brought to life by more than two dozen actors. Nicholas Robideau provides 15-year-old Paul's narrative voice as the story of friendship, sexual identity, school and family politics, and young love unfolds in mostly-but not completely-lighthearted scenes. The tale is set in a present-day ideal world where gays and cross dressers are accepted and there's no gay bashing, Paul has always known he is gay-and so are many of his friends. His best friend lives a largely closeted life, in fear of his parents' religious intolerance. The school quarterback is a wily transgender youth popularly known as Infinite Darlene. When Paul meets Noah, the attraction is mutual, but Paul's busy and sometimes ambitious social life, coupled with Noah's fear of getting hurt again, temporarily derail the course of true love. Eventually--and after the school bookie has provided all with the opportunity to wager on the outcome--Paul and Noah do get together, and even Joanie, Paul's oldest friend, with whom he's had a miserable falling out, is coming around. A well-conceived bonus at the end of the book's narration gives three of the actors the opportunity to compare their own high school experiences with Paul's.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Somewhere on the eastern coast of the US that's home to Francesca Lia Block's Los Angeles is a town where six-foot-five drag queens play high-school football, kindergarten teachers write comments like "Definitely gay and has a very good sense of self" on student report cards, quiz-bowl teams are as important as football teams, and cheerleaders ride Harleys. Paul and his friends go to high school in this town. Paul meets Noah, falls for him, does something dumb, and loses him. The last half of the story is about Paul working to get Noah back. Paul narrates his own story, and he talks and thinks like teens wish they did, much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scooby squad. Paul learns that love is still scary when boy meets boy even if it's as accepted as mom's apple pie. With wry humor, wickedly quirky and yet real characters, and real situations, this is a must for any library serving teens. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
Now away we go
9 p.m. on a November Saturday. Joni, Tony, and I are out on the town. Tony is from the next town over and he needs to get out. His parents are extremely religious. It doesn't even matter which religion--they're all the same at a certain point, and few of them want a gay boy cruising around with his friends on a Saturday night. So every week Tony feeds us bible stories, then on Saturday we show up at his doorstep well versed in parables and earnestness, dazzling his parents with our blinding purity. They slip him a twenty and tell him to enjoy our study group. We go spend the money on romantic comedies, dimestore toys, and diner jukeboxes. Our happiness is the closest we'll ever come to a generous God, so we figure Tony's parents would understand, if only they weren't set on misunderstanding so many things.
Tony has to be home by midnight, so we are on a Cinderella mission. With this in mind, we keep our eye on the ball.
There isn't really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best. Back when I was in second grade, the older gay kids who didn't flee to the city for entertainment would have to make their own fun. Now it's all good. Most of the straight guys try to sneak into the Queer Beer bar. Boys who love boys flirt with girls who love girls. And whether your heart is strictly ballroom or bluegrass punk, the dance floors are open to whatever you have to offer.
This is my town. I've lived here all my life.
Tonight, our Gaystafarian bud Zeke is gigging at the local chain bookstore. Joni has a driver's license from the state where her grandmother lives, so she drives us around in the family sedan. We roll down the windows and crank the radio--we like the idea of our music spilling out over the whole neighborhood, becoming part of the air. Tony has a desperate look tonight, so we let him control the dial. He switches to a Mope Folk station, and we ask him what's going on.
"I can't say," he tells us, and we know what he means. That nameless empty.
We try to cheer him up by treating him to a blue Slurp-Slurp at the local 24-7. We each take sips, to see whose tongue can get the bluest. Once Tony's sticking his tongue out with the rest of us, we know he's going to be okay.
Zeke's already jamming by the time we get to the highway bookstore. He's put his stage in the European History section, and every now and then he'll throw names like Hadrian and Copernicus into his mojo rap. The place is crowded. A little girl in the children's section puts the Velveteen Rabbit on her shoulders for a better view. Her moms are standing behind her, holding hands and nodding to Zeke's tune. The Gaystafarian crowd has planted itself in the Gardening section, while the three straight members of the guys' lacrosse team are ogling a bookstore clerk from Literature. She doesn't seem to mind. Her glasses are the color of licorice.
I move through the crowd with ease, sharing nods and smiling hellos. I love this scene, this floating reality. I am a solo flier looking out over the land of Boyfriends and Girlfriends. I am three notes in the middle of a song.
Joni grabs me and Tony, pulling us into Self-Help. There are a few monkish types already there, some of them trying to ignore the music and learn the Thirteen Ways to Be an Effective Person. I know Joni's brought us here because sometimes you just have to dance like a madman in the Self-Help section of your local bookstore. So we dance. Tony hesitates--he isn't much of a dancer. But as I've told him a million times, when it comes to true dancing, it doesn't matter what you look like--it's all about the joy you feel.
Zeke's jive is infectious. People are crooning and swooning into one another. You can see the books on the shelves in kaleidoscope form--spinning rows of colors, the passing blur of words.
I sway. I sing. I elevate. My friends are by my side, and Zeke is working the Huguenots into his melody. I spin around and knock a few books off the shelves. When the song is through, I bend to pick them up.
I grasp on the ground and come face to face with a cool pair of sneakers.
"This yours?" a voice above the sneakers asks.
I look up. And there he is.
His hair points in ten different directions. His eyes are a little close together, but man, are they green. There's a little birthmark on his neck, the shape of a comma.
I think he's wonderful.
He's holding a book out to me. Migraines Are Only in Your Mind.
I am aware of my breathing. I am aware of my heartbeat. I am aware that my shirt is half untucked. I take the book from him and say thanks. I put it back on the shelf. There's no way that Self-Help can help me now.
"Do you know Zeke?" I ask, nodding to the stand.
"No," the boy answers. "I just came for a book."
He shakes my hand. I am touching his hand.
I can feel Joni and Tony keeping their curious distance.
"Do you know Zeke?" Noah asks. "His tunes are magnificent."
I roll the word in my head--magnificent. It's like a gift to hear.
"Yeah, we go to school together," I say casually.
"The high school?"
"That's the one." I'm looking down. He has perfect hands.
"I go there, too."
"You do?" I can't believe I've never seen him before. If I'd seen him before, it would have damn well registered.
"Two weeks now. Are you a senior?"
I look down at my Keds. "I'm a sophomore."
Now I fear he's humoring me. There's nothing cool about being a sophomore. Even a new kid would know that.
From the Hardcover edition.