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Rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.
As soon as I opened Boy Meets Boy, I encountered–
9 P.M. on a November Saturday. Joni, Toni, and I are out on the town. Toni is from the next town over and he needs to get out.
–which demonstrated to me that the bar at which I had set my expectations proved grossly overshot. Because it’s not one of those lines that is incongruent with the rest of the narrative. It’s a harsh dunk in ice-cold water of the narrative. The whole book is written this way! And it’s maddening. I don’t know if it’s something I’m just “not getting,” but doesn’t force-feeding an entire novel this way defeat the purpose of writing a book in the first place? I feel like I’ve been cheated for reading this without any heart or imagination behind it.
Speaking of heart and imagination, oh my goodness, this town must exist in Levithan’s fantasy land. I wouldn’t have such a problem with it if it were at least remotely realistic or meant to be a foil that represented the real-world struggle in the world–or, hell, even the town next door. Boy Meets Boy had so much potential to explore these themes of homosexuality being difficult for others, not as accepted and commonplace as Paul (the main character)’s life makes it seem, that it just squandered. Tony’s situation was a cop-out, though I did appreciate its presence altogether because I was certain that, when Noah made mention of it not being easy and just let it drop, it wouldn’t occur at all. I think it’s the main reason I gave this book 2 stars.
I feel like the whole thing was ridiculous, in a campy, uncomfortable way, but it tried to be serious at some parts while not taking itself too seriously during a drama-charged time in these teenagers’ lives. It tried way too hard. It reminded me a lot of the movie Lesbian Vampire Killers which suffers from a lot of the same crooked afflictions but took much less time to get over with. And, really, with a title like that, you know not to expect something that would win a frikkin’ Grammy. Boy Meets Boy is lauded so appreciatively that I hadn’t known what to do with such disappointment.
And yet I couldn’t just not finish it. I owed Paul and Noah that much.
But c’mon. Really. “Noah. The Boy. The one who changed everything.” ??! Lies. Noah didn’t change anything! And the side characters had so much less to do with everything than you’d be led to believe by the blurb/synopsis/summary/whatthefuckever. I didn’t even know Joni (gag) was a girl until like 30 pages in. And she is supposedly Paul’s best friend. The only people who had any depth to them at all were Tony and… well, Tony. Paul has his moments, but his grandiose gestures of love declarations to Noah were so overstated (and, frankly, annoying) that I couldn’t even give them the benefit of the doubt of being brave or overcoming his fear of rejection or pride or anything.
I just wanted him to stop folding origami flowers and leaving them all over lockers, all ready.
So I leave Boy Meets Boy with a big, fat feeling of “meh.” Truly, it was okay. Fortunately there ain’t much to read through and it’s easy to do so due to the simplistic writing style (not in an Ernest Hemingway way, either), so at least it’s not a greater waste of time than it needs to be, but…
Yeah, I just… I didn’t get this one… Not one bit.