Boy Meets Boy (by David Levithan)

2 11 2011

Set in a pre-Glee era, the world in Boy Meets Boy is not just a highly idealized gay utopia , but it is in the first place a very necessary take on high school life as it could/should be. On his website, David Levithan talks about Boy Meets Boy: “I’m often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle – it’s about where we’re going, and where we should be.” The cat absolutely loves this charming little book of hope and love.

In Boy Meets Boy we follow Paul and his completely teenage encounters with love: in the form of the new kid at school (Noah), an ex-boyfriend Kyle, a female best friend he’s fallen out with (Joni), a male best friend (Tony) and a bunch of side-characters that in any other book would look out of place, ridiculous even (Infinite Darlene – both homecoming queen and star quarterback of the football team; cheerleaders doing motorcycle tricks, etc.), but that are in the hands of wordmaster Levithan pure gold. Levithan’s high school world is one where gender identity is both not an issue and utterly fluid: “There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They all got mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best…” (p. 9) That is not to say that love is uncomplicated or that every character in the book agrees with their own or everyone else’s sexual identity. Tony’s parents for instance, show a image of religion-induced gay-fear that will undoubtedly be all too recognizable to many gay people reading this book. Or Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend, who feels confused because he is figuring out that he’s not just a gay boy, but instead might be bisexual. He doesn’t really want to be both: he wants to have a fixed identity, one that can be easily categorized.

Levithan’s take on friendship and love comes as close to perfection as possible: “I want to ask him, Where is here? Is it this island, this town, this world? More than anything in this strange life, I want Tony to be happy. We found out a long time ago that we weren’t meant to fall in love with each other. But a part of me still fell in hope with him. I want a fair world. And in a fair world, Tony would shine.” (p. 14) The cat’s a sucker for scenes like this! The scenes between Paul and Tony are definitely the ones where Levithan’s belief on what true love really means, shines through. This is where he is putting his heart on the line. Even more than the interaction between Paul and Noah (which is wonderful in itself!), the relationship between  Paul and Tony is the one that will make you smile and grin like a silly nilly.  Levithan is such a gifted writer in that he can write a scene like this and not make it sound tacky. He makes his characters shine, imperfections and all. He’s a master at naming “that nameless empty” (p.10), of bridging the gap between what is and what should be.

Some would argue that Boy Meets Boy shows a false, escapist world, a world that can never be, and that Levithan sugarcoats the situation of present-day gay teenagers who often have to struggle to be who they really are. And yes, that is often true. Unfortunately gay-bashing is still very much of this world. However, to these people the cat says that Boy Meets Boy has just the right amount of cheese and that it’s the perfect antidote for a gloomy outlook on teenage (love) life and relationships in general. Boy Meets Boy indeed shows a wonderful world.

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5 responses

20 01 2012
Megan

I loved this novel! You captured it really well.

20 01 2012
Ringo the Cat

Thanks! I just saw on your site that you also read Divergent and liked it too! Love that book!

20 12 2012
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children (by Kristin Cronn-Mills) « Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] up, never transcending the label of LGBT or Issues book, which is a total pity. Other authors, like David Levithan or Emily M. Danforth prove that such a thing really is […]

9 02 2014
Openly Straight (by Bill Konigsberg) | Ringo the Cat's Blog

[…] And made me think immediately of David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, which also had that cool […]

23 06 2014
cf anything goes

cf anything goes

Boy Meets Boy (by David Levithan) | Ringo the Cat’s Blog

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