This review contains spoilers, which will be pointed out as this: (Spoiler) so that you can skip them.
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, LGBT+, Romance
4.5 stars on Goodreads
I really really enjoyed this one, even though I listened to the audiobook and I am usually not the biggest fan of audiobooks. I usually dislike audiobooks, because it tells me how to read a book and what the tone is, meaning I cannot figure it out myself. I also often have problems concentrating for a longer period of time and I cannot just lay down and listen to it. I need to do something while listening to it.
However, this particular audiobook was narrated by the author himself, so you cannot really argue with the tone of it. Nobody knows better than the author how to read their book. It was also a shorter audiobook, which allowed me to finish it relatively quickly compared to other audiobooks.
This story didn’t necessarily contain new information – if you will – but then again: For some reason, some people still don’t understand how difficult and hard being gay can be. Of course those people are people who have never experienced it themselves and never will, but it still surprises me again and again. It’s not really a secret anymore – not at all. That is part of what the book talks about. It talks about the good, the bad, and everything in between of being gay – specifically a gay teenager.
There are, I believe, five stories, which explore the experiences of a bunch of different boys who are gay. One of them is a transgender boy, who has to both deal with stigma about transgender people as well as about gay boys. There is the boy who lives online in chats for gay men, spending most of his time talking to men who are much older than him. There is this couple of which one has to deal with his parents’ ignorance of his sexuality. They don’t hate him, they simply refuse to acknowledge that he is gay. Then there are the so-to-say main characters of the book. The Two Boys Kissing, who are ex-boyfriends and are trying to break the world record of the longest on-going kiss. The stories are heartwarming and beautiful, but also real, and sometimes brutal and sad, but always hopeful.
To me one of the most fascinating things about this book are the narrators. They are are chorus of the gay men who died from AIDS, I believe specifically those who died during the major epidemic in the 80s. They are talking about how times have changed and how times haven’t changed. They speak of what it means to be gay and to be stigmatised, but also of being brave and how much they believe in those boys of today. They try to encourage them and at the same time try to protect them.
It is a short read, I believe, because the audiobook was rather short and so so worth it! According to the synopsis the two boys who are trying to break the record are at the centre of this book and yes, in a way they are, but at the end of the day, their story is no more described and explored than all the others. They are the main attraction, I believe, because the stories take place in the time-span of their kiss.
The only two things I was a little bit disappointed about was the absolute focus on boys, so no girl/girl love in here. I suppose that was to be expected considering the title and the fact that it becomes clear very quickly that this one is about the boys. I also realised that since it is told by a chorus of gay men who died from AIDS during the 80s, such a significant time in LGBT+ history, it makes sense to focus the story around gay boys and not girls. However, there are still girls in this story and those girls are absolutely amazing!
Another point was the writing style at times. Most of the time, I really really enjoyed it, although sometimes the non-dialogue parts got a bit long for me, especially as I was listening to it and not reading it myself. One story features a “blue-haired boy” and a “pink-haired boy” and sometimes the use of those two phrases were a bit overdone and consequentially sounded a bit like fanfiction.
Other than that, I loved this book. I would have loved to hear a bit more about Cooper and how his life/story went on, but what can you do…