Sunday, February 16, 2014

Mini-Rambles: David Levithan Edition (Megan and Rachel)

So Rachel and I have both been reading a lot of David Levithan lately, so we decided to combine our reviews into one mini-ramble post!

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
From Goodreads: New York Times  bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. 

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

Literally one day after finishing Boy Meets Boy, I picked up Two Boys Kissing and I was blown away. The book is narrated by the generation that died as a result of AIDS telling the story of several gay couples and gay teenagers in the present. All of this is centered around Harry and Craig trying to break the Guinnes World Record for the longest kiss. The book was so much more powerful than I expected Two Boys Kissing to be. The story was written in a format that I've never experienced before and it was beautiful. The contrast between the lives of the gay men killed by AIDS and the teenagers today was stunning and I teared up while reading this book a few times. It was equal parts adorable and sad in a way that only David Levithan can manage. 

I'm really glad that I read this so close to Boy Meets Boy because they were both so beautiful and it was an interesting comparison to have. If you're a fan of David Levithan I definitely recommend reading this book immediately.

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan
From Goodreads:
First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

This book is about 9/11, which made me a little wary at first because it's such a tragic event, and I wasn't sure how a novel about it would work. I need not have worried at all, because Love is the Higher Law handles the topic of 9/11 so elegantly. Rather than being a sad, emotionally destructive book, Love is the Higher Law is actually pretty light, considering the subject matter. The beginning of the book is about the events of 9/11, but after that, the book focuses mostly on how 9/11 affects three different characters. It's a powerful story about love, but not just romantic love between people. There is a love story between two of the main characters, but that love story is secondary to the love story between New York City and the New Yorkers who lived through 9/11. It tells the amazing and important story of how the people of New York became united because of the terrible events of 9/11.

Overall, Love is the Higher Law is a beautiful and powerful story, but it was not as emotional as I expected it to be, which was a relief. It didn't make me cry, which was nice, because I don't think I could have handled a deeply emotional book about 9/11. I've read quite a few David Levithan novels at this point, and Love is the Higher Law makes me even more excited to read the rest of his books.

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