This Review contains spoilers.
“Ignorance is not bliss. Bliss is knowing the full meaning of what you have been given.”
Published: 2014, by Egmont UK.
Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction.
Contains: Strong Homophobia, Violence/Anger, Bullying, Mentions of Depression/Suicide, Insecurity, Sexual content.
‘Two Boys Kissing’ narrates the lives of seven young men, each struggling in their own ways yet each become linked. The story begins with Neil and Peter, who are in an established relationship, yet as the story evolves their relationship is far from healthy with their own insecurities. Avery meets with Ryan at a ‘Gay Prom’ and as their attraction to another blossoms, Avery struggles to admit that he’s transgender, whilst Ryan is being intensely bullied by someone named Skylar. Craig and Harry, exes, try to break the world record for the longest kiss, facing local news broadcasts and homophobia whilst doing so. And finally, Cooper, who spends his live being anyone else on a website for those looking for sex, until his homophobic parents discover it.
At first, I wasn’t too sure about this book. The narrative is completely unique to anything I’ve read in the past. Throughout the story we’re unsure who the narrator is, however, from the ending my personal assumption is of those who have lost their lives to homophobia in various ways. Each paragraph switches between different characters and the narrator, which for the first one-hundred pages I found unnecessary and confusing. However, eventually, I adjusted to the narrative, and found it beautiful. I discovered that it doesn’t switch randomly, that the events in one character’s life links to another, creating this feeling of unity and empowerment within the pages.
The language itself is beautiful, full of inspiration and thought processes of those who have had similar experiences as the characters, and as a lesbian, I’m glad this book exists. The things it speaks of, such as; depression, homophobia and insecurity are things which need to be said, and I’m glad I finally picked this book up to understand why it’s so popular within the LGBT Young Adult genre.
However, the themes within the book are very graphic and made intense with the narrator’s words, meaning there were many times where I had to take a break from reading and care for myself before continuing. For those who find themes of homophobia or mental health upsetting or triggering, I’d advise you not to read this book until you feel stable enough to do so.
The ending of this book is what brought it up to a five star rating, I adored how David Levithan brought the story to a close. The events are not completely finalised, Craig and Harry were still kissing regardless of their pain while Peter and Neil were in the crowd, Avery and Ryan were still trying to recover from Skylar’s taunts, and Cooper’s parents had only just found him after his disappearance. I’m glad it was kept somewhat open, leaving hope for readers in a similar position.
Overall, I love this book, the characters were realistic, and the message that I personally took from it is something I will hold onto. Your sexuality is valid, yet not what defines you.