Title // Two Boys Kissing
Author // David Levithan
Publication Month // 2013
Publisher // The Text Publishing Company
Genre // Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
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.
Two Boys Kissing was a book that was recommended to me, and I’m so glad it was. It is a beautiful, diverse story about a group of gay teenage boys living in small-town America. Some of them know one another, others have never met, and yet their stories intertwine when Harry and Craig, former boyfriends (now good friends) attempt to set the world record for longest kiss.
Other characters include Neil and Peter, who have been dating for a year; Ryan and Avery, who’ve only just met but are pursing a spark. Tariq has been physically attacked over his sexuality and is recovering from it, while Cooper’s parents have found out he’s gay in a terribly confronting way and his life spirals out of his control. Their stories are narrated by the generation of men and boys who died of AIDS – who hope for the futures of all of the boys.
The story was unique, the narration a big reason for that. It won’t be for everyone, and it does draw you out of the story to an observer’s perspective, but it set the tone beautifully for the story. I laughed and cried and celebrated and despaired with the different stories of the boys. Their triumphs were ecstatic and their lows were heartbreaking, but the overall feeling at the end of the story was one of hope.
Beautiful writing, beautiful story. Two Boys Kissing highlights how far we’ve come, and how far we still have to go. 5 out of 5 stars.