Two Boys Kissing Audiobook by David Levithan (Review)

Posted by on Sep 24, 2019 in Reviews | 16 comments

Review of: Two Boys kisssing Audiobook
Audiobook:
David Levithan

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On September 24, 2019
Last modified:September 24, 2019

Summary:

Two Boys Kissing Audiobook

By: David Levithan

Narrated by: David Levithan

Published by Listening Library 8/27/2013

Two Boys Kissing Audiobook

4 Hearts rating image Hot Listens

A Novel

6 hrs and 15 mins

Genre: YA Ficiton

Two Boys kissing Audiobook Sample

Two Boys Kissing Audiobook

4 Hearts

#5 on the American Library Association banned and challenged list for 2016
In 2014 according to the School Library Journal, the book was challenged by a parent of a Virginia high school student reading the sample on Amazon and seeing the explicit sexual content- parent clarified that the objection was not to the gay content, but that it was sexual.
It also made the banned book list in 2016 for its cover (two boys kissing) condoning public display of affection.
In both instances, book was kept on shelves though was considered controversial for the above reasons.
In August 2019, NBC News reported a religious activist, Dorr, checked this book and two others out of his library in Iowa and burned the books. He was convicted of criminal mischief and… fined (and not the library’s late fine).

Review:
I’ve always wanted to read David Leviathan books since his writing was brought to my attention in several enthusiastic reviews for Every Day. I finally snagged the chance to listen to Two Boys Kissing for our Banned Book Week Blog Event and I’m glad I did even if it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting and it struck me hard in the emotions.

Unlike my usual habit, I didn’t pay close attention to the details on the book or the reviews from fellow readers and went into it blindly.
Boy, did I get a surprise.

The author chose to tell the story in a Greek Chorus-style of previous generations of gay men who died from AIDS observing and commenting on the new generation of gay youth. It had a strong tone of introspection as a result and hit me so hard as a result.

It also doesn’t focus on one storyline, but several gay young people showcasing different aspects of being gay- figuring out their sexuality and starting to date at a gay prom like Ryan and Avery, Cooper’s explorations online, closeted gay, figuring out when to ‘come out’, and even Harry and Craig trying to break the Guinness World Record for kissing in honor of their fallen friend. Harry and Craig end up getting a second chance together and learn from their past. The book brings the reader right into the midst of that group of observers so that both that group and the people being observed are right there. So much is touched upon that there is food for thought long after the last page is reached.

In truth, the book required full concentration when on audio as it went from situation to situation rapidly for me. It completes a thought with one story and hops to the next and the next and the next all the while the various observers are offering commentary. For all the hopping, it is not scattered or in cohesive. It feels like the story of a generation with a foundation on a previous generation with a siren call to future generations to pursue their own course and insight for those like family, friends, co-workers, etc looking in from the outside. Because of this, the book ends open ended for many of the story streams, but takes the reader through a gamut of emotions before that- curiosity, fear, hope, eagerness, tragedy, anger, shame, joy, and so much more.

The format of Greek Chorus and hopping about wouldn’t have been my choice, but it really worked for this subject matter. Through it all, I was struck by the author’s powerful writing and voice (and I don’t just mean because he did his own narration work). I was moved not just in emotion, but in thought. If I were a questioning teenager or a gay adult, this book would probably resonate even more and I can recommend it. But, I want to add that this book is for everyone, not just individuals from the LGBTQA community, so we can all move forward together with understanding.

Two Boys Kissing Audiobook Narration

5 Hearts

As to the narration work, I don’t generally enjoy author’s narrating their own books, but I was pleasantly surprised by David Leviathan’s skill. If I didn’t know better, I’d never guess that he was not an audiobook narrator. His pace, tone, and voicing were spot on for the book. He stayed quiet and intense, letting the words speak for themselves.

David LevithanI find it downright baffling to write about myself, which is why I’m considering it somewhat cruel and usual to have to write this brief bio and to update it now and then. The factual approach (born ’72, Brown ’94, first book ’03) seems a bit dry, while the emotional landscape (happy childhood, happy adolescence – give or take a few poems – and happy adulthood so far) sounds horribly well-adjusted. The only addiction I’ve ever had was a brief spiral into the arms of diet Dr Pepper, unless you count My So-Called Life episodes as a drug. I am evangelical in my musical beliefs.

Luckily, I am much happier talking about my books than I am talking about myself. My first novel, Boy Meets Boy, started as a story I wrote for my friends for Valentine’s Day (something I’ve done for the past twenty-two years and counting) and turned itself into a teen novel. When not writing during spare hours on weekends, I am editorial director at Scholastic, and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. (Check it out at www.thisispush.com.)
Website: http://www.davidlevithan.com/

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My thanks to The Listening Library for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by

Sophia Rose Signature

  • 4
    editor rating
Sophia Rose
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

    16 Comments

  1. I really need to try this author still! So glad this was a good read for you!

  2. I have seen this book around but assumed it was a story about two boys falling in love. Oops. This sounds really powerful but I think I would have a hard time with the audio for a story told this way. I might have to check out the book at some point. Great review.

    • LOL, our brains work the same way. I thought it was only about the two guys going for the kissing World Record. Boy was I off. Yeah, this is definitely one that print might actually be better- at least the first read until you’re familiar.
      Sophia Rose recently posted…Two Boys Kissing Audiobook by David Levithan (Review)My Profile

  3. Thanks for the review, Sophia. You wrote a lovely tribute and I enjoyed learning more about why it was banned. Thank you!

  4. I need to try this author one day too

  5. I knew nothing about this book or author. It certainly doesn’t seem like it’s a book to be banned though, although that’s just my opinion. It’s important subject matter, especially for teens that are wondering etc. I think I might have gotten lost listening however with the jumping around. But that’s just my mind these days. Fantastic review Sophia!

    • Fortunately, the high school in Virginia and the libraries agreed with you and dismissed the complaint. 🙂

      Yeah, this was one that I couldn’t let my attention slip even a little for chores or other stuff b/c it did jump around so much and I’d lose the train of thought. I think I would have done better in print, personally, but I’m glad I didn’t get to miss the author’s wonderful job of narrating, either.
      Sophia Rose recently posted…Two Boys Kissing Audiobook by David Levithan (Review)My Profile

  6. Lovely review. I read this and enjoyed it. Glad the audio was well done.

  7. It’s definitely been a while since I read this so i can barely recall the story line. I didn’t know this was a banned book!

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