Sunday, August 18, 2013

Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight 
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Release date: May 28, 2013
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rafe is a kid from Colorado who has decided to attend an all boys’ school in New England. He’s smart, involved, and friendly...oh, and he’s gay. He’s been out since middle school and is a leader in his community as a public speaker supporting gay teenagers. However, he’s become tired of always being seen as the “gay kid” first and everything else later. hence his move to New England. At his new school he’s decided to be “not out” and see if he can be a “normal” teenager for once--see if it changes how people view him. But in the end, it might change how he sees himself.

I enjoyed the story’s premise: Rafe is wondering if people can be label free. In the story he escapes one label in his old community only to be given another in his new community. Identity is such a complex concept so it was interesting to see how Rafe would adjust to his new label/identity at his new school. I liked the concept, but I didn’t like the web of lies that Rafe has to weave as he works to “not tell the whole truth” in his bid to be a “normal” teenager. I do like how it shows that you can’t hide a part of who you are and still be happy with yourself.

Rafe also has a group of quirky friends who add some humor to the story; I usually enjoyed a chuckle with his odd-ball roommate.

Overall, I liked it. I was satisfied with the ending because I knew there had to be consequences to Rafe’s lies--particularly with his friendships and romantic interest. If you are looking for an interesting exploration of identity, then this story is for you!

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