Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
This is a short but powerful story about several young gay men, narrated by the spirits of the gay men lost to the AIDS epidemic.
Queer, young adult, contemporary
New York Times bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record—all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.
While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites—all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.
This book is recommended a lot but I didn’t read it for a long time because I assumed it was a romance novel. It is not. The central story is that of two boys determined to break the world record for longest kiss. As they continue for more than a day, they make it onto the news, and several other young boys are affected.
This was a wonderful tribute to queer resilience and a celebration of the community. Some of the characters live in supportive families, others feel alone in the world. One boy is contemplating suicide, another is getting his first boyfriend, yet another is dealing with the struggles of a long-term relationship. It’s a diverse range of experiences and even includes a trans boy.
None of these people know each other, but they are connected by their queerness. The narration style is unique but fitting, as the men who didn’t make it get to see the younger generations inherit a freer world. Definitely a tear-worthy read.