Openly Straight

Openly Straight

by Bill Konigsberg


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The award-winning novel about being out, being proud, and being ready for something else... now in paperback.

The award-winning novel about being out, being proud, and being ready for something else. Pre-order the companion novel Honestly Ben now (out 3/28/17)!

Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.

And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.

So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben... who doesn't even know that love is possible.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545798655
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 04/28/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 68,384
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Bill Konigsberg is the author of five books for young adults, most recently Honestly Ben. His books have won awards including the Stonewall Book Award, the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, and the Lambda Literary Award. Bill lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his husband, Chuck, and their two Labradoodles, Mabel and Buford. Please visit him online at and @billkonigsberg.

Read an Excerpt


As I stuffed my second empty duffel bag into the dorm closet, I decided on a shower, since I smelled like my expiration date had come and gone weeks ago. A guy zoomed by the doorway, then I heard the footsteps slow and stop.
"Hey, guy," he said. "We're gettin' a game going downstairs, do you...holy Jesus!?
"What?" I said.
"You look just like Schroeder."
"From Peanuts?"
"What? No. This kid. Graduated last year. You could be his brother. I'm the first to tell you that?" the guy said, revealing a flawless set of pearly, white teeth.
I smiled back, dazzled by him. I hoped I wasn't blushing. "You're the first to tell me anything. You're the first person I've met here."
"You're kidding. Well, we're playing touch football, could use another player or two," he said. "You comin'?"
"Um, sure," I said. Showering could definitely wait.

Customer Reviews

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Openly Straight 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Nerdfighter133 More than 1 year ago
This book made me cry and laugh, sometimes at the same time. It can be relatable for any teen trying to figure out who they are, not just for gay, bi or lesbian teens, in the closet or not. 
ReadingToEscape More than 1 year ago
I thought the premise of this book was interesting to me as a gay teenager myself. What if I could go somewhere where nobody knew me or my sexual orientation? Rafe was a fun narrator and could easily seeing him be one of my friends. I thought this whole book was fabulous.The ending left me wanting something more however, maybe it was just an opening for a sequel? A guy can dream anyways. 
MarlenaC More than 1 year ago
Openly Straight was a refreshingly original story of a boy trying to find his place and personality. Konigsberg was spot on with the realities of being gay and how it impacts one's choices. This book displayed very well what it feels like to be gay in today's modern society. This is a humorous and witty version of nearly every gay teens coming out scenario. It's a very real story which makes you feel as though you're right there with Rafe, experiencing what it could be like to have to cover up such an important element in his life. This book is great for gay and straight teens alike because it really covers all aspects of discovering one's self. The end of being gay with Rafe of course, and also a perspective of what it's like to not exaclty know who you are, but wanting to expirement and find out through the situations of Ben. Really a very good read, and kept me wanting more! Hoping for a sequel to find out if more happens between Rafe in Ben seeing as they ended on a sour note, but still have another year of highschool to go! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You must've gotten locked out. Go to the next res.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book highly recomended
Anonymous 17 days ago
Visits topics that need to be visited
MaxWasHere More than 1 year ago
I was able to relate to Rafe in ways I hadn’t honestly realized. Rafe is not a stereotype. He lies, he breaks promises to himself and people he cares for and ends up caring for, blatantly messes up and messes up hard. He is happy to belong with people to be in a “clique”, he struggles to stand up to his friends when it comes to his own beliefs and he has fears that he might not be accepted anymore if he does stand up for those beliefs. Rafe is very human and very relatable. I was taken on a quirky adventure full of laughs and moments that made me want to seriously hug something - and it felt real for me. I was able to connect to characters that Rafe connected with solely based on the dialogue and descriptions given by Konigsberg. It gave me a sense of validness. As a minority, being the main focus of a fun story is a great feeling. Representation feels great. I only hope that this book and it’s author gains a following so future kids who feel like they need representation can find a well-written book to fall into. Now is this a future household name like Harry Potter? No (I wish though). But it was something that needed to be introduced. The story lines and events are thought-provoking, creative and a great take on a coming out story that many LGBTQ+ teens really need in their lives. I cannot stress enough just how important representation is for minorities and this is just the tip of an iceberg that really needs to be explored further. If and when you read this book, you’ll be taken on a similar, if not the same, adventure I went on as a reader. If you can’t identify with Rafe in any way shape or form, there are plenty more dynamic, well-rounded, diverse characters that you could easily latch on to; characters with depression, characters who are labeled “weird”, characters who are comfortable with their masculinity, people who aren't comfortable with their masculinity, so on and so forth. You’ll be ready to find out what “being yourself” truly affects in your day to day life and what giving it up can do as well. I promise, no matter the life you lead, you’ll get something out of this book; whether that be representation, a lesson, or just a story. 10/10 would recommend.
alyssayuri More than 1 year ago
Rafe has always been identified as the gay kid. And he's fine with that. He is gay, and happy to be one. But when he transferred schools, some guys invited him to play football and none of them limited their actions toward him. And he's pretty sure it's because no one knew he's gay! Being in a new school, he decided that he's not going to tell anyone that he's gay. This book has been around for years, and I finally got around into reading it. And I do not regret reading this book! I quite like it. The thing about this book is that Rafe just wants to be seen as a regular person without prejudice. And I think that's why this book is so relatable. We just want to be treated fairly. And once Rafe got a taste of it, he wanted more even though it cost him one of the most important thing about him. I really like how the book was written. I liked Rafe's voice, how he's funny and he carries his point very well. Despite it being quite dragging in the beginning, I loved how the story goes and the conflicts included in this book are not all about Rafe, and I liked that very much. I liked the book. Very well done. And I do wish that people know more about this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really love this book. It's funny, smart and reminds you of being a teenager. I couldn't put it down towards the end. However, reading this signs you up to read the squeal, Honestly Ben, which is also wonderful. You're definitely going to want more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tyleratthedisco More than 1 year ago
I laughed, and I cried. It is such well written that I felt as if these people could go to my school. I just cant wait for the next book to come out. I just need it. its like oxygen to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Refreshing to see some homosexual books. I've been looking for lesbian fiction and stuff like that. Haven't read yet, but I hope its good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't get past the sample. I really wanted to read this book, it seemed interesting enough at first, but the plot just kinda fell.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
saze_says More than 1 year ago
i absolutely love this book it was so honest and i think any lgb teens would be able to relate in some way
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg follows a teenage boy named Rafe who wants to leave his life in Colorado behind him and go to an all boys school on the east coast. Why does he want to do that? Because he is sick and tired of being "that guy kid" and wants to start life anew, in a sense. He is sick of living with labels and wants to see what life would be like to just be seen as "normal". Now Rafe doesn't deal with much bullying in his hometown, even his parents are behind him 100%, but he doesn't like people treating him special. He just wants to see him as he is. It is a very eyeopening book, how our society uses labels like "straight" and "gay",  among others such as "jock" and "nerd", etc, when it comes down to it, and it really makes you think of how a person feels when they are labeled. Why do we have to live with these labels? Bill Konigsberg writes his characters very well. They are believable, funny, honest, and true. No matter who you are, I feel, you can relate to these characters. Rafe is surrounded by many types of friends and many different types of people you would find in a high school. I love his roommate Albie, he is very quirky and smart. As we get to know Rafe, and the not-quite-a-lie he is living at the all boys school, he begins to fall in love with Ben, a guy who does't know the truth about Rafe. As the story progresses, life for Rafe gets a lot more complicated. All in all, I loved Konigsberg's writing and want to read more from him. Although, I felt like the story took a while to really get going drama-wise, and ended way too soon, I really enjoyed it and wished I could read more about Rafe. I give this novel a 4.5/5. Original Review posted on A Bibliophile's Reverie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is brutally honest relatable and funny
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars. Everyone wears labels, we pick them out ourselves and wear them proudly or others slap them on us, grouping us together to make their world more comfortable. There’s labels based on everything imaginable and the list gets longer as our society gets more diverse: race, sex, hobbies, culture, and physical characteristic, I could go on but it’s just a fact that everyone has multiple labels that they wear or identify themselves with. Rafe came out in eighth grade. This label, Rafe is proud of but it’s also smothering him, it’s all people see. They don’t see the boy behind the label, they just see gay. He feels like he’s in the spotlight, singled out because of his uniqueness and he just wants to lead a normal life. Rafe decides to spend his last two years of high school in Massachusetts where no one knows his sexual preference. It’s not like he’s undoing his gayness, he’s just not telling. The minute he hits the campus of this all-boy school, he’s enjoying himself. Playing football, scanner pong and hanging out with the guys, he’s almost enjoying himself too much. He’s like a bird, finally set free. As all this freedom makes its way into Raf’s world, he’s becomes undone. He’s lying to himself and others, it’s a front and these people are buying it. Rafe likes his new identity but he knows the truth will come out eventually and then who will be hurt? It was when some of his relationships start to get emotional that I start to worry about how they will end. Rafe’s covering up the truth, he’s an actor to these guys and I have a feeling that some of them won’t take the truth lightly. I treaded lightly reading the chapters as Raf dealt with his sexuality, it was a huge moment for someone who was escaping his previous life. Raf’s roommate was perfect for him too. From their initial meeting, to their police scanner days, to their deep conversations that they had, you couldn’t have found a better roomie than Albie. It’s an important subject and the author did an excellent job with straightforward characters– great book. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is difficult to put down. Read it and see why.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Despite being an adult (though I fancy myself a young adult still) I often search for good teenage fiction to grant myself a reprieve from the heavier reading required of me, or that I do for pleasure. This book was shockingly excellent and will be added to one of my favs. I loved all of the philosophical turns and found the book to be well written and engaging. Definitely a book I would recommend to any teenager regardless of sexuality or gender.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funny, witty, never got boring.