Reviews for Boy Meets Boy
Booklist Reviews 2003 August #1
Gr. 9-12. Paul, a high-school sophomore, is gay. Big deal! He's known he was gay since he was in kindergarten. Remarkably, everybody else knows it, too, and nobody cares. Clearly, the world Paul inhabits in this breakthrough book (the first upbeat gay novel for teens) differs from the real world: two boys walk through town holding hands; the cross-dressing quarterback, named Infinite Darlene, is not only captain of the football team but also homecoming queen; the school has a biker cheerleading team. Even in this whimsical world, however, the course of true love doesn't always run smoothly: Paul meets--and gets--the boy, Noah, a new kid in town, but loses him. Then, in perfect balance with this extraordinarily large-hearted, cheerful book, something unpredictable but deeply satisfying happens. Though at times arch and even precious, this wacky, charming, original story is never outrageous, and its characters are fresh, real, and deeply engaging. In its blithe acceptance and celebration of human differences, this is arguably the most important gay novel since Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind; it certainly seems to represent a revolution in the publishing of gay-themed books for adolescents. ((Reviewed August 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #1
Joining Brent Hartinger's audacious Geography Club (rev. 3/03) are two more novels taking a look at gay high school life. In Boy Meets Boy, sophomore Paul's school couldn't get more gay-friendly: the star quarterback, a drag queen named Infinite Darlene, is also homecoming queen, and the mood of the town is equally welcoming, dropping the homophobic Boy Scouts for "Joy Scouts," for example. While sometimes threatening to waft the story off to Never-land, it's a premise that allows Levithan's gay characters to explore the vicissitudes of love on the same terms as the straight kids. Paul, who came out in kindergarten, is swooning over new-kid Noah but still has some emotional baggage with former boyfriend Kyle, who has been hinting that he'd like to get back together. This is the stuff of teen romance novels, to be sure, but while Paul's narration can wax lyrical at all the right moments, it's also a bit lofty, as when Paul constructs one thousand origami flowers just for day one in a campaign to win Noah back after Noah's heard that Paul kissed Kyle. (Kissing is as far as anyone goes in this book.) Paul's a good kid and a smart one, but his hyper-articulateness and fondness for rarefied digression make him a hero difficult to warm up to. Kids who suspect that they're probably not interesting enough for Boy Meets Boy will feel more at home at Rainbow High, a world apart from Paul's school, and one that many kids will know, from both real life and teen television drama. First introduced in Rainbow Boys, Nelson, Jason, and (another) Kyle are gay high school seniors. Nelson and Kyle are best friends, Jason and Kyle are boyfriends, and each one of them is facing decisions. Having discovered, after unsafe sex with a stranger and much worry, that he's still HIV-negative, should Nelson break off his budding relationship with the HIV-positive Jeremy? Can Jason come out to the rest of the basketball team and keep his scholarship to Tech? Will Kyle go to Princeton, as his father wishes, or Tech, to be with Jason? With chapters shifting attention among the three protagonists in turn, there's a soap opera-like suspense that is both banal and magnetic. And to his credit, the author refuses easy solutions to the dilemmas. While not nearly as stylish or subtle as Boy Meets Boy, Rainbow High wears its heart on its sleeve and has a frankness ("You should've seen his JPEG. Total boner magnet") that teens will appreciate. While the gay kids in Boy Meets Boy are the kind who read The Lost Language of Cranes in junior high and do book reports on Oscar Wilde, one suspects that even they would find Rainbow Boys a guilty pleasure--and reassuring, too. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 August #2
Somewhere on the eastern coast of the US that's home to Francesca Lia Block's Los Angeles is a town where six-foot-five drag queens play high-school football, kindergarten teachers write comments like "Definitely gay and has a very good sense of self" on student report cards, quiz-bowl teams are as important as football teams, and cheerleaders ride Harleys. Paul and his friends go to high school in this town. Paul meets Noah, falls for him, does something dumb, and loses him. The last half of the story is about Paul working to get Noah back. Paul narrates his own story, and he talks and thinks like teens wish they did, much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scooby squad. Paul learns that love is still scary when boy meets boy even if it's as accepted as mom's apple pie. With wry humor, wickedly quirky and yet real characters, and real situations, this is a must for any library serving teens. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 October #1
In this gay love story, debut author Levithan imagines a community where sexuality is not a source of conflict. At the high school his characters attend, a drag queen named Infinite Darlene reigns as "both star quarterback and homecoming queen" and there are Joy Scouts instead of Boy Scouts ("When the Boy Scouts decided gays had no place in their ranks, our Scouts decided the organization had no place in our town"). Narrator Paul is a sophomore who has known he's gay since kindergarten. He has supportive parents and friends, and has had a couple of relationships before he meets Noah, who's new to town. But just as their relationship is taking off, Paul's old boyfriend decides he wants him back, and Paul kisses him. Now Paul has to "show" Noah he's serious about him. The story line takes second place to the elements of the setting. The author creates a real wonderland: the cheerleaders ride Harleys, the school fields a quiz bowling team (its captain "score[s] a strike while listing the complete works of the Brontë sisters") and the students frequent a Veggie D's (vegetarians ran the "usual processed-slaughterhouse fast-food joint" out of business, and now the place serves items like Tofu Veg-Nuggets). Most of these eccentricities work well, although a few seem forced (and some seem dated, e.g., references to the TV show Dallas and lyrics by The Smiths) and several subplots pall. Those who enter Levithan's sweet new world will find a refreshing, offbeat romance. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2005 May #5
This gay love story imagines a community where sexuality is not a source of conflict. In PW's words, "Those who enter this debut author's sweet new world will find a refreshing, offbeat romance." Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 September
Gr 8 Up-High school sophomore Paul lives in a present-day gaytopia, where boys come out of the closet to become class president, and the Gay-Straight Alliance has more members than the football team. The cheerleaders ride Harleys, and the cross-dressing homecoming queen is also the star quarterback. Paul meets artistic Noah in the bookstore. They pass notes rife with meaningful detail; paint in Noah's psychedelic, art-covered room; and fall in sweet, realistic teenage love, unencumbered by gay bashing, sexual-identity crises, and parental rejection. With these real-world plot constraints removed, the narrative is driven completely by colorful, literate characters at their unfettered best. Paul is the cerebral teen's dream narrator-reflective and insightful, occasionally snarky, and consistently hilarious. Levithan's whimsical, energetic prose and surreal setting draw comparisons to Weetzie Bat-era Francesca Lia Block. The sharp humor and thoughtful clarity of the narration are on par with those in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (MTV, 1999) and Ellen Wittlinger's Hard Love (S & S, 1999). Levithan's prophecy of a hate-free world in which everyone loves without persecution makes this a provocative and important read for all young adults, gay or straight.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2003 October
Levithan's novel is a lighthearted romp through the complications of high school relationships. After Paul meets Noah in a bookstore, Paul knows he is smitten when he refuses to divulge details to Joni-his closest female friend since before she assisted his successful campaign to become "the first openly gay class president in . . . Mrs. Farquar's third grade class." Paul, comfortable with his sexuality since labeled "definitely gay" in kindergarten, enjoys another chaste yet incredibly close friendship with Tony-who attends another school, has religious fundamentalist parents, and struggles with being gay. Tony and Paul are so in tune that they often complete one another's homework assignments for fun. With two best friends, Paul has support when Kyle, "the only straight boy [he] ever kissed," leaves and then reenters his life-complicating Paul's budding relationship with Noah. In a town that shunned Boy Scouts for the more inclusive Joy Scouts, being a gay teen is no more difficult than being straight. Boys walk hand-in-hand without repercussions. The high school's homecoming queen, Infinite Darlene, is also its star quarterback, and the school's rich-kid bookie, Rip, provides odds on nearly everything-including Paul's chances with each of the boys in his life. Hilarious, romantic, and optimistic, the story provides another view of what life could be like if the world were more accepting, showing how youth solidarity can overcome the fears of the most homophobic parents. This title is a keeper for public and secondary school libraries; purchase multiple copies if there is a Gay-Straight Alliance in town.-Cynthia Winfield. PLB $17.99. ISBN 0-375-92400-0. 5Q 4P J S Copyright 2003 Voya Reviews