Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Openly Straight

Title: Openly Straight
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Rating: 3.5/5


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.


*WARNING - Bit of spoilers in the review because I can't write it without them (but nothing about the ending)*

I believe my rating of this book is unusually harsh, but that's because I had extremely high hopes for this story after reading the description.  I have a think for gay/lesbian/questioning/whatever books.  I find it fascinating in the way that someone (character) is figuring out who they are, and with that discovery, what it means to them and the people around them.

I thought this would be an interesting new twist, with an openly gay character voluntarily going back into the closet (even though he doesn't see it as such).  It was interesting to see Rafe's thoughts through his first semester at Natick, through actual days and through the journal, but I believed the book dragged (almost unbearably) until things began happening with Ben (specifically when Ben, Toby, Albie, and Rafe started hanging out).

One huge annoyance to me about this book:  how many characters there were.  I understand that Rafe is straddling two worlds, and I understand that one of those worlds involves a soccer team, but still there are simply too many characters that are randomly mentioned through simple interactions that I could never remember their place in the story.

As for Rafe, I like his character, but I never developed any type of attachment to him (as I usually would with the main character).  I did however attach a bit to Toby, though we rarely saw him sometimes, and big time to Ben, because he's awesome.

I love how deep Ben's character is.

Anyway, I would recommend this book to all teens, questioning their sexuality or not.  I like how it teaches not tolerance of differences in people, but celebration of the things that make us unique.

Good moral, just took far to long to get there.