Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
"Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He's won skiing prizes. He likes to write.
And, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade, and he isn't teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.
So when he transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret -- not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn't even know that love is possible."- summary from Amazon
I really enjoyed this book. I will admit though that I did start it way back in June when it first came out, couldn't get into it really and set it aside for a few months. It wasn't until November when I went to YALLFest in Charleston (and was meeting Bill, whose debut I loved too) that I started it again. I flew through it that weekend, reading it while waiting in various signing lines and then in my hotel room each night.
It's such a different kind of gay book with a main character determined to not let his sexuality define him and learning what it really means to be yourself. Konigsberg does a great job with Rafe's character and I liked the inclusion of his writing assignments, which gives the reader a different look into Rafe's past and into how he views the world through his writing.
What I also really liked was the friendship between Ben and Rafe- it was handled so beautifully and in an interesting way. It was nice to see a real connection evolve from a friendship and have it be more about the person rather than the gender, at least from Ben's perspective. I loved reading their scenes together and there's some great humor and heart in their interactions.
Overall, another hit from Konigsberg- seriously such a well-written, compelling, humorous book with a great amount of depth. I strongly urge you all to check it out and I hope it isn't too long of a wait before his next book comes out!
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.