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Two Boys Kissing
Cover of Two Boys Kissing
Two Boys Kissing
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • STONEWALL HONOR BOOK  •  LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNER  •  NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST "You have to read...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • STONEWALL HONOR BOOK  •  LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNER  •  NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST "You have to read...
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  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • STONEWALL HONOR BOOK  •  LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD WINNER  •  NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST

    "You have to read this.” —Rainbow Rowell, bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Carry On
    From the New York Times bestselling author of Every Day, this love story of shared humanity and history Hypable calls "an interconnecting web that will leave you emotionally exhausted and absolutely thrilled to have read something so beautiful and unique." 

    Based on true events—and narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS—Two Boys Kissing follows Harry and Craig, two seventeen-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teens dealing with universal questions of love, identity, and belonging.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover You can't know what it is like for us now—you will always be one step behind.

    Be thankful for that.

    You can't know what it was like for us then—you will always be one step ahead.

    Be thankful for that, too.

    Trust us: There is a nearly perfect balance between the past and the future. As we become the distant past, you become a future few of us would have imagined.

    It's hard to think of such things when you are busy dreaming or loving or screwing. The context falls away. We are a spirit-burden you carry, like that of your grandparents, or the friends from your childhood who at some point moved away. We try to make it as light a burden as possible. And at the same time, when we see you, we cannot help but think of ourselves. We were once the ones who were dreaming and loving and screwing. We were once the ones who were living, and then we were the ones who were dying. We sewed ourselves, a thread's width, into your history.

    We were once like you, only our world wasn't like yours.

    You have no idea how close to death you came. A generation or two earlier, you might be here with us.

    We resent you. You astonish us.

    It's 8:07 on a Friday night, and right now Neil Kim is thinking of us. He is fifteen, and he is walking over to his boyfriend Peter's house. They have been going out for a year, and Neil starts by thinking about how long this seems. From the beginning, everyone has been telling him it won't last. But now, even if it doesn't last forever, it feels like it has lasted long enough to be meaningful. Peter's parents treat Neil like a second son, and while Neil's own parents are still alternately confused and distressed, they haven't barred any of the doors.

    Neil has two DVDs, two bottles of Diet Dr Pepper, cookie dough, and a book of poems in his backpack. This—and Peter—is all it takes for him to feel profoundly lucky. But luck, we've learned, is actually part of an invisible equation. Two blocks away from Peter's house, Neil gets a glimpse of this, and is struck by a feeling of deep, unnamed gratitude. He realizes that part of his good fortune is his place in history, and he thinks fleetingly of us, the ones who came before. We are not names or faces to him; we are an abstraction, a force. His gratitude is a rare thing—it is much more likely for a boy to feel thankful for the Diet Dr Pepper than he is to feel thankful for being healthy and alive, for being able to walk to his boyfriend's house at age fifteen without any doubt that this is the right thing to do.

    He has no idea how beautiful he is as he walks up that path and rings that doorbell. He has no idea how beautiful the ordinary becomes once it disappears.

    If you are a teenager now, it is unlikely that you knew us well. We are your shadow uncles, your angel godfathers, your mother's or your grandmother's best friend from college, the author of that book you found in the gay section of the library. We are characters in a Tony Kushner play, or names on a quilt that rarely gets taken out anymore. We are the ghosts of the remaining older generation. You know some of our songs.

    We do not want to haunt you too somberly. We don't want our legacy to be gravitas. You wouldn't want to live your life like that, and you won't want to be remembered like that, either. Your mistake would be to find our commonality in our dying. The living part mattered more.

    We taught you how to dance.

    It's true. Look at Tariq Johnson on the dance floor. Seriously—look at him. Six feet three inches tall, one hundred eighty pounds, all of which can be converted by the right clothes and the right song into a mass of...

About the Author-

  • DAVID LEVITHAN is a children's book editor in New York City, and the author of several books for young adults, including Boy Meets Boy, Love Is the Higher Law, and Every Day. He coauthored Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and Dash & Lily's Book of Dares with Rachel Cohn.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine On the high school lawn, Harry and Craig are attempting to break the Guinness World Record for longest kiss. Meanwhile, other gay youth are searching for acceptance, navigating relationships, confronting prejudice, and dealing with the overwhelming reality of now. In the background, a Greek chorus of gay men--the generation lost to AIDS--watches. Narrating his own work, David Levithan strikes a balance between elegy and hope--perfect for a story about generations. Though his performance is not polished, it is impassioned. This sincerity resonates and deepens the emotional weight of the intersecting stories, particularly the observations of the chorus. Characters are recognizable by personality and nuanced delivery, allowing the wide-ranging plot to unfold seamlessly. An afterword provides insight into the story's origin. A.S. (c) AudioFile 2013, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 3, 2013
    It’s a different world for teenagers coming of age and coming out now, compared to when Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy was published 10 years ago. He speaks directly to this new generation in this novel, which instantly claims its place in the canon of gay literature. As the title suggests, a kiss plays a central part: it takes place on the lawn of a high school where two former boyfriends try to set a world record for the longest kiss. As the title also suggests, this one’s for the boys. Although varyingly supportive friends and family are part of the story, Levithan focuses on the gay male community. Craig and Henry, the two participating in the kiss, are no longer dating, throwing an element of uncertainty into an act that’s romantic, political, and personal. Neil and Peter have been dating for a year and are beginning to wonder what’s next. Avery, “born a boy that the rest of the world saw as a girl,” and Ryan are caught up in the dizzying excitement of meeting someone new. And Cooper is rapidly losing himself into a digital oblivion. But as much as this story is about these teenagers, it’s also about their forebears. Levithan builds a bridge between today’s young gay men and those who have come (and gone) before them through an audacious choice of narrator: the collective generation of gay men lost to AIDS. This chorus of voices holds court on body image (“When we were healthy we were ignorant. We could never be content in our own skin”), family (both biological and found), hookup apps, dancing, the reality of watching loved ones die, and the fleeting preciousness of life. The narrators are positioned as self-described “shadow uncles” and “angel godfathers,” but Levithan doesn’t canonize them. “The minute you stop talking about individuals and start talking about a group, your judgment has a flaw in it,” they observe when negative reactions to the boys’ kiss mount as it gains widespread attention. “We made this mistake often enough.” There are no chapters; the story moves among the characters’ experiences and the narrators’ commentary, proceeding ever forward in the way that life does. As Craig and Henry’s kiss approaches record-setting territory, and Cooper approaches becoming a statistic, the novel builds into something triumphant. Many will read the final pages with their hearts in their throats. Levithan makes it clear that loving and living are as imperfect as those who practice them, but no less precious for their flaws. A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth. Ages 12–up. Agent: Bill Clegg, William Morris Endeavor.

  • Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park "There are more than two boys kissing in this book, and every one of them will reach your heart. You have to read this."
  • Frank Bruni, The New York Times "
    "Remarkable."


  • Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, June 3, 2013:
    BookPage, August 28, 2013:

    "Levithan's powerful, multifaceted novel explores just how far things have come for many gay teens--and how far things still need to go."

    Starred Review, The Bulletin, September 2013:

    "Both celebratory and elegiac... There's much to discuss here about identity, about social media, about community--and it would be a particularly stellar choice for a multi-generational LGTBQ-focused book club."

  • "A landmark achievement from a writer and editor who has helped create, in literature, a haven for queer youth."
  • Jennifer E. Smith, author of This Is What Happy Looks Like and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight "No one does heart-pulling emotion like Levithan, and this book, coming a decade after his groundbreaking debut, 'Boy Meets Boy,' has special resonance."
    - Gayle Forman, author of Just One Day and Just One Year, for Bookish.com

    "Brilliant, moving, important, and wise."

  • WAMC Northeast Public Radio, September 19, 2013:
    "Two Boys Kissing will make you laugh and cry, but best of all, it will make you relive those perfect innocuous moments of finding and then being with your first love."
  • Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Books Inc. "The high level of imaginative and intuitive empathy that is apparent in all of his works is especially strong here--as not only are his protagonists fully realized, but so are the voices of the collective narration, whose experiences are as varied as the characters on the page... It is the best book I have read this year."

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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