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Peace. Love. Books.

Two Boys Kissing - David Levithan 4.5 stars

Two Boys Kissing is the story of Harry and Craig, ex-boyfriends who are attempting to beat the world record for longest kiss. They initially have the support of Harry's parents, a few friends and teachers. As the hours pass they receive more attention, thus eliciting both support and criticism from people worldwide. One of those confused and angry was Craig's family, who didn't know, or was in denial about their son's sexuality up until his mom saw the live footage on television and came to the site to confirm what it meant.

While the main event is centred on the two boys we also get to know about Tariq, a recent victim of a hate attack by a group of boys, leaving him beaten up with broken ribs on the pavement of a dark street. We meet Neil and Peter, who have been going out for a year, disillusioned with their relationship and not noticing that they're growing apart. There is Cooper, who seeks temporary highs by going on the Internet with fake identities and chatting dirty with strangers in sex chatrooms. And we witness the blossoming relationship between Ryan and Avery, two boys from different towns who meet at a gay prom one night.

They all have important stories to tell, and I don't know if the message would have been delivered as effectively had they narrated the stories themselves. The use of a chorus of gay men who died of AIDS was original and fascinating, but it was hard for me to get used to, and as a reader I felt removed from the story at times, if that makes sense. There were also times when the book felt preachy, but since the expected audience are mostly teenagers, the directness of certain passages was appropriate. I loved how the writing didn't try to sugarcoat the realities of life for these boys. Being a teenager is a difficult and confusing period for some as it is already. To be crucified for being different and misunderstood is just heartbreaking. Many of the feelings and difficulties faced by these boys are universal - unrequited love, approval from parents, the desire to belong, the fear of rejection, and the need to be understood and accepted.

The writing, if you can get past the initial oddness of narrative choice, is beautiful and honest. I have abused the highlighting capabilities of my reader once again, because so many statements just hit close to home. You. Will. Cry. You will want to hug these characters. You will want to root for human rights. It's enlightening, thought-provoking, powerful and inspiring, emotionally moving from the first page to the author's note and acknowledgments in the end. A must read for everyone.
There is the sudden. There is the eventual. And in between, there is the living.

We do not start as dust. We do not end as dust. We make more than dust.

That's all we ask of you. Make more than dust.