The #WritersRead theme for April was banned books. I chose to read Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan. It’d been on my Kindle for a while, so this was a good opportunity to check it out.
I’d imagine the reason this book appears on so many banned lists is right there in the title. Two boys kiss. The kiss is very long (over thirty hours long, in fact), as these two boys are intent on breaking the Guinness Book of World Record for Longest Kiss. Surrounding this amazing stage are several other stories, other boys who are connecting, looking to connect, and missing connections. All of this is relayed from the point of view of dead gays. In other words, the book is thoroughly gay. Unbelievably, there are a lot of folks who still have a problem with that.
I am not one of them. As any regular visitor to my blog will know, I often write about boys kissing. I think kisses are wonderful. I like to write about all people kissing.
Two Boys Kissing is about more than just simple kisses–though I’d hardly call a thirty-odd-hour kiss simple. It actually sounded pretty brutal! The narrator is essentially a chorus, and passages devoted to their hopes, dreams, and laments, tell the story of the AIDs epidemic in the late eighties and early nineties. These dead men are thrilled by the freedoms taken for granted by some of the boys. They’re cautiously optimistic regarding the coming out of others. They cheer the boys’ successes and commiserate with their failures. A lot of times, they simply remember.
The book could have been darker for these remembrances, but it isn’t. Not really. I did feel sad at times, but the chorus sings with such a fond tone. Their lament is more melancholy than tragic.
As to whether I enjoyed the book or not–hmm. I’m glad I read it. I think it’s an important book, beautifully conceived and written. But the dark moments got to me. Some of the side stories veered into events I’d rather not read. People absolutely need to know that discrimination is alive and well and sometimes brings a terrible cost, but I generally prefer my books a little on the lighter side.
Still, I believe this book should be considered a modern classic and should be added to school reading lists rather than banned.
Other Notable Reads for April
I read SO MANY good books this month. I’ll try to keep my thoughts brief.
We’ll start with The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune. I either love or kinda hate Klune’s books. Usually, it’s because he’s either touched on something I care about or wandered too far off the beaten path into inanity. Sometimes he manages both and such was the case for the first part of The House on the Cerulean Sea. Linus gave me the irrits, as did the over the top bureaucratic organization he worked for. I nearly put the book aside a number of times, bored and underwhelmed. I kept reading for Lucy (you’ll find out who he is if you read the book).
Ultimately I’m glad I kept reading, because even while I muttered to myself about this being the corniest crock of anything, ever, I loved the second half. The characters grew on me, even Linus, and the story became something special. I’m even considering a hardcover copy for the Keeper Shelf (which is the highest of all praise).
I’m slowly working my way through the Hainish Cycle in no apparent order. Early in April, I read The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. Um, wow. Until I read this, The Left Hand of Darkness was my favourite Le Guin. I still love that book for all the reasons, but this one is so much deeper. I don’t know how, but it is.
Honestly, I doubt I have the intellectual capacity to break down just how important this book is. What I will say is that while every important character appears to be masculine, the book is totally feminist. And, as always, what Le Guin has to say about gender, roles, sexuality, and in The Dispossessed in particular, anarchy vs. society, is deeply thoughtful and on point. Highly recommended.
The King of Plagues (Joe Ledger, #3) is the book where Jonathan Maberry and Ray Porter (Maberry’s narrator in all things) catch me and keep me. I’ve been enjoying the series, but this third book is everything. In my brief Goodreads review, I called it the hook. This is the book that sets up the rest of the series, for me and for Joe, and I can’t wait to continue.
I’m a huge fan of Gregg Hurwitz’ Orphan X series, but as I’m mostly caught up on that one (the waiting list for book five is forever long), I turned back to ‘the series that started it all,’ The Kill Clause (Tim Rackley #1). It took me a while to get into Tim Rackley’s point of view, but by the end of the book, I was calling out to anyone who passed within three feet of me to tell them how brilliant the plot was.
Same goes for the second book in the series, The Program. Fantastic stuff. Can’t wait to read the third.
I’ve been slowly working my way through Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series for years. Each book is so wonderfully dense that I often take a few weeks or months (or years) in between to digest and simply remember. Golden Fool (Tawny Man #2, Realm of the Elderlings #8) is a wonderful, wonderful book and perhaps one of my favourites to date, The Mad Ship. Imagine my surprise, when I discovered the link between these two books! I don’t know if it’s something I completely over looked, but I cherised the connection even more learning about it now.
Anyway, I can’t say enough great things about this series. READ IT!