What parents need to know
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.
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?
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.