What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there are stories about gay and lesbian couples, as well as straight couples, in this romantic collection. There is some swearing, and some graphic sexual images, especially in one story about two teen boys who "were boyfriends, but ... screwed all over the place" (they even decide to go to their prom just to find new places to have sex).
What's the story?
Levithan pens 18 love stories, covering a wide range: the narrators are gay, lesbian, straight, young, old, single, married, falling in love, enduring a break-up, etc.
Is it any good?
There is quite a variety in this short story collection. And, as you might expect, readers are going to relate more to some of these stories -- and characters -- than others. In one installment, Levithan recounts the sweet stories of how his grandparents met, while in another, two gay boys involved in a mostly physical relationship decide to crash their prom, mostly to find new places to have sex.
Readers are sure to be impressed with Levithan's creativity, from his turns of phrase (such as calling a bored coffee server a "boreista") to his ideas about love's random turns. Teens may be less bothered than adult readers by how juvenile some of the stories are -- both in concept (an old woman time travels back briefly, remembering what it was like to be young and in love) and in emotion (a boy so devastated by the recent end of his relationship that he breaks into his ex-boyfriend's house and falls asleep on his bed). But even these sophomoric stories are sweet (or, as it were, bittersweet), and showcase Levithan's reverence for love, in all its forms.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about short story collections. Ask your kids if they would rather read short stories or a longer novel. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each form? Do any of these stories jar you, as you move from one to the next?
This book originally came out for Valentine's Day. Why do you think the publisher decided to release it then? How else does our calendar influence when certain kinds of movies and book are released? Do you think it works -- are more people likely to buy books like this one in February?
Levithan has written several popular book for young adults, such as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. What do you think is appealing about his books? Who do you consider some of the best writers for teens today?