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Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Are you getting tired of reading so many boy-meets-girl love stories? Boy Meets Boy is the fictional story of Paul, who is going through a difficult journey as a gay high-school sophomore. Don't be mistaken, though: this is not a book just focused on one character coming to terms with his sexual orientation. Rather, it's a book about teenagers growing up, and the natural struggle that many have with their sexuality.

Boy Meets Boy is a coming-of-age novel. Actually, this is one of the few coming-of-age novels that deals with nearly every situation a teenager may be facing. Our main character is out and proud, and that is rarely the case. Author David Levithan takes readers into the lives of these teenagers. He shows us what it might be like to have to hide a huge part of who we are from the people who should always be on our side. Tony, Paul's good friend, has to hide the fact that he is gay from his religious parents. Much of the novel is dedicated to his struggle to tell his parents.

A huge theme of this book is denial. Several characters are unable to come to terms with who they are attracted to, or even the fact that they are in relationships with the wrong people. Joni is another of Paul's best friends. She is one of the most supportive people in his life; unfortunately, when she starts dating Chuck, an insensitive jock, she turns her back on him and several other friends. Figuring out how to maintain friendships while experiencing one's first significant romantic relationship is the focus of much of the plot.

Most of all, this book is about forgiveness. That sounds cheesy, but nearly all of the characters make a mistake and are ultimately forgiven for it.
In this way, everyone, gay, straight, or otherwise, is connected just through being people. Levithan does a wonderful job conveying how alike all the characters really are. At the risk of sounding like Hannah Montana, everybody makes mistakes. What really counts is what happens after you make them.

When I had the opportunity recently to meet David Levithan, I instantly knew that he was a man who not only accepts himself, but also does his very best to use his words to encourage people to accept themselves and others. He seemed genuinely happy when I told him that I played a huge part in the gay-straight alliance in my school. Change may start with just one person, but that person is going to need support for that change to take effect.

After reading Levithan's books, I am inspired to stand up for what is right. Too much of the time, we let things happen in our lives that we don't agree with. Maybe it is human nature not to want to be involved with every little thing, but sometimes the little things count the most. If nothing else, read Boy Meets Boy because it may change the way you look at the people you meet every day.

If you are reluctant to read this book for religious reasons, or because you find it weird when two guys kiss, I challenge you to give this novel a try. Otherwise, you may be shutting yourself off from a book that you may find enjoyable, and that may change some of your presumptions about what it means to be gay.

I am a straight teenager, and I loved this book. Don't think that not being gay means you can't relate to these characters. There is no better medium for getting inside a character's head than a book. Boy Meets Boy is short, charming, and leaves you with things to think about. What more can you ask for?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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