Review by Anja Filan, AmeriCorps alumna ’14
I believe diverse books are crucial as students need to be able to relate to characters; the greater representation they have in books, the more engaged and understood they will feel. Finding diverse and engaging texts for Young Adult readers, however, is often a struggle. In 2013, only 96 young adults books featuring LBGTQ characters were published.
David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy celebrates homosexuality, individuality, and love. Levithan creates a world of possibility and acceptance in its utopic society. The novel’s protagonist, Paul, is a sophomore in high school who has just met Noah, the boy he thinks his heart is made for. With the stress of helping his two best friends and ex-boyfriend, Paul struggles to make his relationship with Noah work. Levithan examines the young adult experience—what it means to be in an unhealthy relationship, what it is to love, what it is to be courageous and stand up for what is right, and what it is to be a friend. Paul’s story shows us that sometimes things must fall apart before they can fit together.
The story is set in a utopia in which characters celebrate their individuality and all sexualities are accepted. The homecoming queen, Infinite Darlene, is also a drag queen and the star quarterback. The cheerleaders ride Harleys; the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. The I Scream Parlor serves up horrifying ice cream concoctions while playing horror movies.
Levithan’s utopia may not be the world we live in; however, it is a world that we can all believe in. Boy Meets Boy rewrites the way things are and prepares readers to take a glance at a society different from their own.
Looking for more books with LGBTQ protagonists to share with your students? Check out:
- A List of LGBT YA Books, A #WeNeedDiverseBooks Discussion (The Compulsive Reader)
- Lesbian Protagonists in YA Fiction (The Compulsive Reader)
- Great LGBTQ Books for Young Adults (Oakland Library Teen Zone’s Pinterest page)