Book Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 10, 2005
Source: Borrowed

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

I’ve read many of David Levithan’s books over the years with varying degrees of success. The Lover’s Dictionary and You Know Me Well are two of my favorite books, while Every Day is… not. I’ve been reading one of his backlist books every few months, and the most recent is Boy Meets Boy.

I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! I think the first thing that I want to say about this book is that it’s cute. It’s almost a utopia in which people are just accepted as they are. That seems to be the main criticism of this book — that it’s too happy. But so many books about gay teens are heartbreaking, and we get a ton of fluffy, happy heterosexual romances. There’s nothing wrong with an overtly happy book about a gay kid. In fact, I think it’s something that should happen way more often than it does.

But despite the generally happy tone, this book does tackle some more serious issues. There are multiple characters who struggle with their sexuality, and there are a few characters (definitely in the minority) who don’t accept our main characters. (There’s also a minor cheating storyline that kind of came out of nowhere and that I didn’t care for.)

Overall, though, this book was really, really good. If you’re looking for a cute book about an LGBTQ utopia, you’ll probably enjoy this one.


Have you read Boy Meets Boy? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini-Reviews: The Vanishing Stair, 19 Love Songs, & The Wicked King

The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 15, 2017
Source: Borrowed

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.

The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Much like with Truly Devious, I wasn’t really fully convinced by The Vanishing Stair until partway through. I was worried that this was going to be a filler book, one where the characters sort of just wander around looking for clues until we hit the final book in the trilogy, where everything finally happens. That worry ended up being unwarranted, because a ton of stuff happens in this book!

With any mystery, I’m kind of hesitant to get into details because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. I just want to say that Maureen Johnson has clearly thought everything through in this series and planned out every detail in depth. I can’t wait to find out what will happen next!


19 Love Songs by David Levithan
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
Source: Borrowed

The New York Times bestselling author of Every DaySomeday, and Two Boys Kissing is back with a short story collection about love–perfect for Valentine’s Day or year-round reading!

A resentful member of a high school Quiz Bowl team with an unrequited crush.

A Valentine’s Day in the life of Every Day‘s protagonist “A.”

A return to the characters of Two Boys Kissing.

19 Love Songs, from New York Times bestselling author David Levithan, delivers all of these stories and more. Born from Levithan’s tradition of writing a story for his friends each Valentine’s Day, this collection brings all of them to his readers for the first time. With fiction, nonfiction, and a story in verse, there’s something for every reader here.

Witty, romantic, and honest, teens (and adults) will come to this collection not only on Valentine’s Day, but all year round. 

I’ve been reading David Levithan’s books since I was a teenager myself, so when I saw that he had a new collection of short stories out, I had to read it. Levithan has written some of my all-time favorite books (The Lover’s Dictionary, You Know Me Well) as well as some books that I’ve really disliked (Every Day, the Dash & Lily books). He’s also written a ton of books that I’ve felt indifferent about, and I won’t link all of those reviews here, but they’re all on my “all reviews” page.

The point is, I can go either way on Levithan’s writing, and I went both ways on the stories in this collection. When they were good, they were really good. I loved the story about Taylor Swift fanfiction, the story about being snowed in, the quiz bowl story, and the Santa story. I also loved all of the music references. The stories I didn’t love mostly left me bored. This isn’t really Levithan’s fault, because I’m sure there are plenty of people who connect more with those stories than I did.

Overall, I think this evens out to a three-star read for me. If you’re into Levithan’s writing, a lot characters from his previous books make appearances in these stories, so you might be pleasantly surprised.


The Wicked King by Holly Black
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Source: Borrowed

You must be strong enough to strike and strike and strike again without tiring.

The first lesson is to make yourself strong.


After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.

When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Well, 89% of people on Goodreads have given this book either 4 or 5 stars, and I am not one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this series or anything. I gave the first book four stars, mostly because it really grabbed me toward the end, but I definitely thought it had a rough start.

In The Wicked King, I had many of the same problems as I had in The Cruel Prince. Jude is less annoying than she was in the first book, but she’s equally dumb. Cardan is still mostly mean to Jude (that’s the point, I know) and I didn’t buy their “romance” at all. I found much of the plot boring, and the big plot twist at the end seemed so in-character for everyone that I wasn’t really surprised at all. In 336 pages, very little happens that actually advances the plot.

And yet. For however much I disliked this book, I still want to read The Queen of Nothing to find out how everything ends.


Have you read any of these books? Have you read any good YA recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Hold Me Closer by David Levithan

Hold Me Closer by David Levithan
Series: Will Grayson, Will Grayson #2
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Source: Borrowed

It’s Tiny Cooper’s turn in the spotlight in this companion novel to New York Times bestseller Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Jazz hands at the ready! Tiny Cooper (“the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay”) stole readers’ hearts when he was introduced to the world in the New York Times bestselling book Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-authored by John Green and David Levithan. Now Tiny finally gets to tell his story—from his fabulous birth and childhood to his quest for true love and his infamous parade of ex-boyfriends—the way he always intended: as a musical! Filled with honesty, humor, and “big, lively, belty” musical numbers, the novel is told through the full script of the musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

It’s once again time for me to say, “I really wasn’t meaning to read this any time soon even though it’s been on my TBR forever, but I saw it at the library and couldn’t resist.” HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I SAID THIS. So many times.

According to Goodreads, I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson back in 2012. That sounds about right, because I remember reading it in my favorite apartment ever right before I left Wisconsin for New Jersey. I am generally not a big fan of standalones randomly getting sequels (or, sorry, “companion novels”) years later, but I loved Tiny Cooper and therefore added this to my TBR almost four years ago. And there it sat, on my TBR, being completely ignored, until I saw David Levithan just next to Mackenzi Lee in my library’s YA section.

The book was fun, I’ll give it that. I enjoyed reading it. I was entertained. But I didn’t feel much of a connection with Tiny, which is sad because even six years after reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I remember that I loved his character. Maybe that’s just what happens when you wait six years between books.

This exchange between a five-year-old Tiny and his babysitter is probably my favorite part of this book —

Lynda: Don’t get trapped into thinking people are halves instead of wholes.
Tiny: People are halves?
Lynda: They’re not trying to sell you on it yet, but believe me, they will. The idea that two is the ideal, and that one is only good as half of two. You are not a half, and you should never treat someone else like a half. Agreed?
Tiny: Agreed!

But I also really loved Djane’s advice toward the end of the book:

Ninety-seven percent of the time, it all comes down to this: Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Ask yourself that simple question: Do I want to do this? If the answer is yes, go for it. If it’s anything but yes, don’t.

This isn’t the best book that I’ve read this year, but it’s far from the worst. If you liked Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I’d recommend it. Otherwise, you can probably skip it.


Have you read Hold Me Closer? What about Will Grayson, Will Grayson?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2016

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  It’s already the last one of 2016!  Today’s theme is the best of 2016.  I read a lot of great books this year, so rather than agonize over which ones to include, I’m using this as a general overview of my favorites.  In early 2017, I’ll have a more detailed list available for you, broken down by genre.

Below are Goodreads links for all titles included in the graphics:

[since you’ve been gone] [koreatown] [are you there god? it’s me margaret]
[what we saw] [the unexpected everything] [lured in] [you know me well]
[me before you] [some kind of perfect] [made you up]

What were your favorites of 2016?

Book review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Goodreads   Amazon

Wow. Just… wow.

ersatz, n.
Sometimes we’d go to a party and I would feel like an artificial boyfriend, a placeholder, a boyfriend-shaped space where a charming person should be. Those were the only times when my love for you couldn’t overcome my shyness. And every degree of disappointment I’d feel from you – whether real or of my own invention – would make me disappear further and further, leaving the fake front to nod, to sip, to say, “Finish your drink, we’re leaving.”

I think you need to be in a specific mindset to appreciate this book, and I was there when I read it. I wish I could share all of the passages that made me smile, laugh, and cry. But, unfortunately, that’s more than half of this book, and I’m not too sure that it’s legal to share that much of a copyrighted work. So you’ll just have to trust me.

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

Read this book if you’ve ever been in a long-term relationship. Read this book if you’ve ever wondered how amazing and wonderful and awful it is to share so much of yourself with someone else. Read this book if you’re heartbroken. Read this book if you’re desperately in love.

abyss, n.
There are times when I doubt everything. When I regret everything you’ve taken from me, everything I’ve given you, and the waste of all the time I’ve spent on us.

This book is so honest. It’s very, very short – only 211 pages, most of which only contain a few sentences. But it somehow captures all the highs and lows of a relationship.

voluminous, adj.
I have already spent roughly five thousand hours asleep next to you. This has to mean something.

This is the Levithan I remember from my teenage years. Sure, this book is aimed more at adults than teens. And, needless to say, the format it a bit different than his usual. But it’s 100% his style. Even with these short dictionary entries, he still has the ability to evoke such emotion.

reservation, n.
There are times when I worry that I’ve already lost myself. That is, that my self is so inseparable from being with you that if we were to separate, I would no longer be. I save this thought for when I feel the darkest discontent. I never meant to depend so much on someone else.

I’m glad that I waited to read this book. Had I read it in 2011 when it came out, I don’t think it would have had as much of an impact on me. I want to give this book a hug.

Final rating: ★★★★★