Idgiepug’s #CBR4 Review #44: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
I picked up David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy immediately after reading Will Grayson Will Grayson, which Levithan co-wrote with John Green. Before I get to the review, though, a funny side story – I got this at the library in my very small very conservative town, and as I tried to use the self-checkout, I got a message saying that this book, alone among the stack of books I was checking out for myself and the little pug, couldn’t be borrowed using the self-checkout option. I was worried that it was “flagged” somehow because it’s about gay kids. Living with conservatives can make a person paranoid, you know? Anyway, it was just a smudgy bar code (so they say), so I didn’t have to go all Lamda Legal Defense Fund on the poor librarian. Anyway, the trouble was worth it because this was one of the best YA romance stories I’ve ever read.
Boy Meets Boy is set in a fictional town that I wish was real. The local high school’s cheerleaders ride Harleys, the star quarterback is a six-foot-plus transvestite called Infinite Darlene, and the narrator’s homosexuality is accepted as a matter of course by just about everyone. Paul, the narrator, has lived his whole life in this comfy little town and has been friends with Joni since grade school. When Paul meets newcomer Noah, he instantly falls for him, but his attention to Noah is distracted by his assignment to “architect” the school’s annual dance, Joni’s new relationship with a boy Paul can’t stand, his ex-boyfriend Kyle who suddenly wants back into Paul’s life, and his friend Tony whose parents are religious zealots (they live in the next town over, not in Paul’s idyllic gay-friendly community) who have a very difficult time accepting Tony’s homosexuality. The beauty of the novel lies in the descriptions of young love: the giddiness of those first few touches, the aching insecurities and self-doubts, the sweetness of quiet moments together. Because Levithan creates an accepting community, Noah and Paul’s story is just a love story in which the characters happen to be gay rather than a gay love story. It highlights the universality of the experience without making a big deal about it. Though the novel is set in the present day, the fictional town feels like a vision of the future if the future works out the way I hope it does.
Obviously, I loved this book. I read it twice in quick succession because I wanted to stay a while longer in Paul’s world, and Levithan’s description of young love was so spot-on that reading it was almost a visceral experience. For those of us a bit (or a lot) beyond the age of the target audience, the novel is a nice reminder of the highs and lows of high-school romance.