Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

openly straight

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe is openly gay in his home town of Boulder, Colorado.  OK, he’s beyond out of the closet, he’s the guy that is asked to speak publicly about being gay, his mother is president of the local PFLAG chapter, and he speaks to high schools about tolerance.  So when he heads to a private all-boys school in New England, he decides to no longer be that out about being gay.  He just wants to be normal, be one of the guys, have guy friends and play soccer.  So he goes back into the closet.  He tells himself that it’s not a big deal, since sexuality is just one part of the whole person.  But things get complicated.  First, a boy on campus has a breakdown.  Then he has to start lying to people when they ask about his girlfriend or even when asked directly whether he is straight or gay.  And yeah, there’s this guy he likes, maybe even loves.  This smart, funny novel explores what happens when coming out at home was easy, but coming out a second time is beyond difficult.

Konigsberg writes such a wonderful character in Rafe.  Rafe is fairly confident on several levels but in so many other ways, he’s a complete mess.  I love that he is a boy who spoke out about tolerance, yet seems unable to tolerate the consequences of his being out and proud.  The idea of returning to the closet is one that adds a freshness to this story while the book still deals with all of the stereotypes and negativity that gay teens face.  I also appreciate the frankness with which this book handles gay teen sex, another refreshing aspect of the novel.

Throughout the book, the tension is created through Rafe’s lies and the growing relationship he finds himself in with his best friend.  Throughout one wonders if this is the moment he breaks his silence and frees himself, but Rafe continues to live in the cage he rebuilt for himself.  It’s a book that is funny yes, but equally tragic too. 

Beautifully written with wit and style, this book takes a new look at being gay and out.  Appropriate for ages 16-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Scholastic.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

No tweet and pin summary next week, since I’m spending the week on vacation!

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts these last two weeks that you might find interesting:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Hooray for Malorie Blackman, an inspiring new children’s laureate | Bim Adewunmi|Comment is free http://buff.ly/1b2fINU

LEADERSHIP

7 Surefire Ways to Make Sure Your Ideas Don’t Take Off – Lifehack http://buff.ly/14hJJc5

LIBRARIES

A/N Blog . Six Outstanding Libraries Honored by the AIA and American Library Association http://buff.ly/11fVdaR #libraries

ALA, It’s Time to Step Up for School Libraries | Editorial|School Library Journal http://buff.ly/17lTeu3 #libraries

Book Domino Chain World Record – YouTube http://buff.ly/10MSZUP

In the Digital Age, What Becomes of the Library? | MindShift http://buff.ly/10FlTpK #libraries

Wear What You Want: Dressing to Lead in Libraries | Librarian in Black Blog|Sarah Houghton http://buff.ly/1aGnoFn

READING

The Best Resources On The “Summer Slide” | Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… http://buff.ly/17tyhgJ

Your mega summer reading list: 180+ books recommended by TEDsters | TED Blog http://buff.ly/16wz94z

TEEN LIT

‘The Hunger Games’ author Suzanne Collins planning new teen series http://buff.ly/14bUoVI #yalit

Veronica Roth and Leigh Bardugo in conversation about YA lit | Shelf Life http://buff.ly/10OUUbr #yalit