05/02/2014

Review: Openly Straight {Bill Konigsberg}



 
Rafe is a normal teenager from Colorado; he plays soccer, likes to write and, oh yeah, he's gay. He's been out since 8th grade and he isn't teased or made to feel abnormal. He even goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance. But really, Rafe just wants to be a regular guy for once, and not just 'that gay guy'.

For his sexuality not to be the headline, every time. So when he transfers to boys' boarding school, he decides to keep his sexuality secret. Not so much going back in the closet, but more starting over with a clean slate.

But then he meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story and then, of course, there's Ben.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0062347047?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creativeASIN=0062347047&linkCode=xm2&tag=litbirboo-21 

Rafe has always been defined by being gay. Not in a bad way, but in a way where it's always there, affecting everything he does and everyone he meets. He's always seen as gay, rather than just Rafe.

I thought this was a great concept. Too often LGBT stories are focused on bullying and the harsh realities of being gay and, while that can be an accurate reflection, it's nice to see a story that shows yes, actually, some people can come out as gay and have it be no big deal.

I thought Rafe was a really interesting character, driven to hide his sexuality because he's sick of everyone being too supportive of it. It's an interesting look at how different sexualities are still seen as something to be made a fuss of. 

I think it's a great social commentary that really pokes holes in even the 'accepting' members of society. Why is being gay something that needs to be accepted? Why can't it just be? Why do gay people need to 'come out' and establish their sexual orientation, when straight people don't? 

This is definitely a novel of self-discovery and Rafe's character growth is fantastic as he discovers who he is, what's important and who he really wants to be. Through writing assignments set by his teacher we get glimpses into his past, including his family's reaction to his sexuality and his friendships back home. It was nice to see snippets of Rafe's old life and gauge the differences in the way he behaved back home, versus how he behaves at his new school. 

I also found myself falling in love with Rafe and Ben's relationship, because it wasn't based on any labels or any clear ideas of sexuality. Ben isn't necessarily gay, but he doesn't necessarily need to be either. Their relationship was about feeling; a close bond that didn't really need to be categorised either way. AGAPE FOR THE WIN (yeah, you'll get it if you read the book). It's one of my favourite pairings in literature because, really, it was the purest and most well-developed.

This is a book that manages to be original, smart, and flat-out fun. It's one of the few novels that have made me smirk, giggle and then burst into laughter. It's rare to find a book that manages to be this intelligent and poignant, but is also filled with wit and a refreshing zeal.

"You can be anything you want, but when you go against who you are inside, it doesn't feel good." 



 

Allie is a Pimm's-obsessed reader, who dreams of road tripping over America, learning to surf & becoming fluent in all the languages of her heritage (which, sadly, does not include Elvish). If she's not reading or blogging, you can find her catching up on Teen Wolf, or reigning supreme with Scrabble/Mario Kart.
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15 comments:

  1. I'm glad LGBT fashion is somewhat becoming more mainstream at the moment. This one sounds like a great entry, I like how you said it doesn't focus on the harsh realities but yet it a fun, cute contemporary to read. Not everything needs to be morbid. Lovely review Allie!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. Definitely - it's nice to have a book that's not doom and gloom 24/7. I've got enough of that on my bookshelf!

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  2. Hmmm... I'm surprised I've never heard of this one before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I really like the quotes you chose too. :)

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    1. I think it's flying pretty low under the radar, which is a shame because it's genuinely a gem!

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  3. I love reading LGBT novels and seeing the various topics they focus on. It's great to see there can now be a book where it's no big deal to be gay (in a bad way) and how some people just want to be seen for other aspects of themselves. I do really want to read this one!

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    1. It's definitely something interesting to explore - another 'downside' of being gay, if you will. It's not just that you might be teased, but that being gay might somehow obliterated every other part of your identity. It's a shame it needs to be that way and sexuality is used as an identifier :/

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  4. So glad you liked it! This was one of my favorite reads from 2013. I loved all the characters. I also adored the humor! I may have kind of developed a huge crush on Ben :3

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    1. You are not the only one! Ben was AMAZING and so sweet. I love how he wasn't freaked out by his developing feelings for Rafe :D

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  5. That is an awesome quote! I haven't heard of the book but then again I haven't read many LGBT books. The ones I have read were pretty good though and the characters seem pretty great!

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    1. This is actually only the second one I've ever read (Ask The Passengers being the other) and I have to say it's really made me want to delve in further to the genre!

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  6. I liked this one too! I really liked that it really played with the way perspectives about gay people have changed, but it still really sucks in some ways.

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    1. Definitely! And it shows not every gay person is that 'token gay' you tend to get in literature, where they're overly feminine and really stereotypical. Not every gay person has the same personality and I think this book really shows that

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  7. The self discovery and different angle on the issue sounds like a good way to go

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  8. Oh I read this book and liked it a lot too! I thought it was done very nicely and the angle on the issue was quite unique. I'm just really bummed about the ending because I wanted them to end up together, but I do get the agape love! :) Great review!

    -Kimi at Geeky Chiquitas

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    1. RIGHT?! That ending was just . . . I actually featured it in my recent post about ending crimes lol. It was NOT an ending!!

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