Two Boys Kissing

Common Sense Media says

Poignant tale of several gay teens and record-breaking kiss.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Readers will absorb information about the AIDS epidemic, as well as symptoms of the disease, and the evolution of treatment and potential outcomes for people living with HIV. The novel also quotes the writings of Walt Whitman, and relates a bit of information about Oscar Wilde.

Positive messages

Two Boys Kissing offers the message to gay teens that they are not alone. The most essential takeaway, however, comes from Harry's dad's revelation about the kiss: "Here, he thinks, is the meaning of everything." The father realizes that the superior greatness and power of love -- familial love, romantic love, friendship -- surpasses all other things.

Positive role models

There are some unfortunately unsupportive adults in the novel, but Harry's parents set an encouraging example as parents who love, appreciate, and admire their gay son. The teen kissers, Harry and Craig, show remarkable courage and commitment, even when they're bullied and insulted. They find a way to turn their friend Tariq's pain into a beautiful message of love and inner strength.

Violence

There are a couple of violent incidents in Two Boys Kissing, both very disturbing. In one, a homophobic father beats his son. In another, a gang of vicious bullies beat and severely injure a young man on a public street.

Sex

Readers know that one character is heavily involved in sexual online chatting, including suggestive, but not explicit, language about what one person wants to do to another. A teen makes a date with a young man he meets online; they kiss passionately and touch through their clothes. The omniscient narrators talk about "screwing." Harry becomes aroused briefly during the kiss. Other couples kiss and holds hands.

Language

"F--k" is used once in anger. Several scenes include hate speech, where gay teens are called "faggot." A father calls his son a "whore."

Consumerism

Name brands include Diet Dr. Pepper, Binaca, McDonald's, Starbucks, Jack Daniels, Yahoo!, and iPod, Coke, Jack Daniels.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A teen and his adult date drink Jack (Daniels) and Coke.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that David Levithan's young adult novel Two Boys Kissing weaves together events that occur in the lives of several gay teens while two former lovers attempt to break the world's record for the longest kiss. The book is narrated by omniccient spirits of gay ancestors from different generations, including many who died of AIDS. Characters experience intense emotions of love, discovery, pain, fear, and self-loathing. A couple of disturbing, violent scenes include child abuse and a hate crime. There's also some suggestive "sexting," descriptions of sexual arousal, and passionate kissing. "F--k" is used in anger once, and hateful anti-gay language ("faggot," "whore") is used several times.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

The omniscient spirits of gay ancestors narrate this story that looks at the lives of several gay teens during a few days leading up to and including two boys' attempt to break the world's record for the longest kiss. A range of lives and experiences are explored: the nerves and thrill of first love, the self-loathing of a boy who suffers his parents' contempt, the coldness of family members who won't acknowledge their son's sexual orientation, the beautiful bond between friends and family members with open hearts. Some characters' lives are intertwined with the TWO BOYS KISSING -- including a friend who was the victim of a hate crime -- while others are unaware of them, but all exist in an evolving world where readers are reminded there is much more hope today than existed for previous generations.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

David Levithan writes with heartbreaking sensitivity about the poignant struggle of gay teens to secure love and acceptance in a society where they still often feel "other." This author has a powerful understanding of the emotions of young people who live on the edges; here, he renders well-formed, relatable characters whose various experiences are further illuminated by the context offered by the gay ancestors/narrators. This is at once a beautifully written novel about some moving modern-day characters, and an eloquent comment on the current evolutionary stage of society's treatment of gay youth.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how things have changed for gay youth in the past few decades. Is it easier now to be an openly gay teen? Does having gay characters more commonly appear in books and TV shows help increase tolerance?

  • Discuss the part the Internet plays in spreading Craig and Harry's message, and the danger it poses for Cooper.

  • Do some online research and learn about the real men (Matty Dale and Bobby Canciello) who inspired David Levithan to invent a story about a record-breaking kiss.

Book details

Author:David Levithan
Genre:Emotions
Topics:Friendship, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Knopf
Publication date:August 27, 2013
Number of pages:208
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Two Boys Kissing was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 5, 9, and 12 year old Written byesclaved January 21, 2014
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Manipulative and unauthentic

Let readers come to a natural conclusion rather than drive their opinion about sexual orientation. I am always against anything that manipulates people's feelings, no matter what the subject.
Teen, 13 years old Written byFalse May 4, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Two Boys Kissing

I think this is an amazing book the narration can be slightly confusing but once you understand it it just adds to the story. Two Boys Kissing is beautifully written and the characters are amazing and well developed. All in all I think this is an amazing novel. I think that the audience this is written for is still youngish and confused about some things (I know I am) and we need to find our own opinion which can be formed by reading about or hearing all sides of the argument.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much sex
Teen, 14 years old Written bylinas101 April 25, 2014
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

A New Kind of Story

its about a teenager/s/ who happen to be gay if that is not appropite for u dont read it but it is amazing
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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