Openly Straight

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by Bill Konigsberg
Overall: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Ugh, why can’t I stay away from gay teenage boy love stories? They’re going to keep wrenching my heart till I die!!!

Okay, to dial back the drama… summary time. After living his whole life in uber-liberal Boulder, Colorado, with parents who are more excited than he is about his coming out, sixteen-year-old Rafe is tired of being The Gay Kid. So he decides to start life over. At an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts. As a straight boy.

…Yeah, it’s an interesting idea, and yeah, it goes about as well as you’d expect. He falls in love with his new best friend, Ben; fights with his parents and his old best friend, Claire Olivia, back home about his choice; struggles with the murky line of when is it lying and when is it not okay; and his new best friend cuts ties when he finds out Rafe is gay – but it’s not what you think. Ben, it turns out, is also apparently not as straight as he let on, and he’s upset with Rafe for seemingly tricking him into this revelation. (Ben comes from a conservative family and doesn’t have the freedom or history to be out, like Rafe can.)

My one qualm with this story is that Ben is apparently simultaneously very secure in his masculinity and sexuality, standing up for other gay boys at school and on the soccer team, quoting philosophy and cuddling and holding hands with Rafe, while also being shocked when he starts to question his sexual orientation. It made for great conflict but also I don’t know anyone who held both those contradictions at the same time so it didn’t ring true for me. That said, I love, love, love both Rafe and Ben and was whole-heartedly rooting for them both. Apparently Ben’s story, “Honestly Ben,” is in the works, to appear late 2016 or early 2017. I can’t wait!

Characters like: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Sweet emotions like: Eleanor and Park
Love scenes like: The Sky is Everywhere

6 thoughts on “Openly Straight

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