A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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 & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"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."
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.