Monday, July 8, 2013

Openly Straight

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
4/5 stars
Arthur A Levine Books, 2013
320 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thinking back, I'm not entirely sure why I wanted to read this book other than presumably my ambition to read all the YA contemporary (a lofty goal to be sure) and as part of my ongoing efforts to read books from the male perspective. I do think the premise is really cool, as will be explained below; it just doesn't seem like a "me" book.

The premise follows Rafe, a pretty ordinary high schooler from Boulder who has worked hard to get into an elite New England boarding school and decides to hide the fact that he's gay from everyone there. Though his friends and family back home have been basically nothing short of supportive, he'd rather that "gay" not be his identifying characteristic. But though he tries to settle in, he finds that he cannot just ignore such an important part of himself nor does he feel at ease with hiding the truth from his friends especially from the boy he might even love.

As I shared, the concept for this is pretty cool. Can he go back in the closet? Can he manage to hide something so integral to his character? How differently is he judged and treated compared to his out classmates (as there are a few)? One of my favorite relationships ended up being Rafe's with his roommate's out best friend Toby, just the way they interacted and shared. I also really liked the roommate Albie who was quite a unique character to be perfectly frank. Other great characters are Ben, the thoughtful boy who becomes Rafe's crush and Claire Olivia, Rafe's best friend from home who is responsible for some awesome quips.

There were two things I really didn't like about this book. One was the essays written by Rafe for his English teacher that reveal character defining moments. I'm not quite sure what I didn't like. It is possible it was the comments the teacher left at the end of the essay encouraging more introspection for Rafe. The other part was the ending, which was so sad to me. As a hopeless romantic, I wanted one kind of ending and yet it would not have been entirely fitting to give that ending.

Overall: A really thought-provoking witty book that will be great for its intended audience and older especially lovers of YA contemporary.

Other Opinions:
Candace's Book Blog
In Bed With Books
Ladybug Storytime!

34 comments:

  1. Read ALL the contemporary-whoo! Haha. Aw, that's really sad it didn't have a happy ending. I am also a hopeless romantic and like happy endings. If the ending was sad, I think I might avoid it!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

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    1. Well it wasn't sad like I was crying but it wasn't the unrealistic wildly happy ending that I wanted.

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  2. yay for contemps!! my favorite YA genre. i've seen this book around and i really like the premise too. good to know it's a good read :)

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    1. Yay for contemps! I'm so happy to see more bloggers seeming to embrace contemps so they can enjoy some really amazing stories.

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  3. Oh now I CAN'T READ THIS BOOK. I need the ending to be amazing and satisfying and HAPPY. If it can't be those things I'll fall apart and ravage the universe and it would be thanks to this book. It would be detrimental to my person, so I must pass on this.

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    1. Well it's not the saddest ending ever but I wanted something happy and unrealistic; the actual ending felt very true and organic to the story.

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  4. I liked how the essays developed to show where Rafe was unreliable in his narration, but found them pretty boring at first.

    Overall I did like this one, although I would've been fine with a totally unrealistic cheesy romantic ending.

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    1. The essays just didn't work for me although I enjoyed seeing the difference. Wouldn't a romantic ending just have made you swoon?

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  5. Yeah, I definitely prefer a happy ending to a sad one! Sounds good, though. Some thought-provoking questions for sure.

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    1. Happy endings > sad endings even if they are more fitting; I still would encourage you and others to check this out though.

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  6. Definitely a really interesting premise. I can absolutely understand why he wouldn't want the fact that he was gay to be the sole definition of who he is, but I can't even imagine how hard it would be to try and deny something that you previously have only ever embraced. Makes me curious to read this one!

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    1. I bet you would really like this one-it was an understandable decision to me but I can't imagine how difficult it was.

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  7. I adore the cover and the story sounds really good! I've never read anything about an openly gay teen going back to being in the closet so this sounds really interesting. Thanks for the review!
    -Danna

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    1. I love the cover too! I also enjoy the premise and the way it was executed.

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  8. I'm about to start reading "Loved Drugged" which is pretty much about the same concept. A gay guy trying to hide it.

    I might check it this one when I'm done with the other one.

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    1. I haven't heard of Loved Drugged-I'll be interested to see your thoughts and may decide to give it a read as well.

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  9. That's interesting that there are essays written by the character included - too bad they didn't quite work for you! But still, it sounds like a great story with an interesting concept.

    Fabulous review!

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    1. Sometimes I like essays written by the character but here it wasn't as successful for me. Still worth checking out though!

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  10. Definitely sounds like a book that I would like to read. Maybe with a happier ending, like you I want happy endings. Great review.

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    1. I'm glad so many other people agree with me about wanting a happy ending-I wasn't sure if I was weird to want that.

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  11. This one's sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to pick it up! I'm really looking forward to it, though the cool cover probably has something to do with that. I'm interested to see how the essays work for me. Great review!

    -Taylor @ Reading is the Thing

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    1. I hope you get to it soon-I'm interested to find out how you interpret things.

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  12. I just threw this book in my purse today and I am so happy to hear you gave it 4 stars despite a few reservations. I do think the premise is super interesting and it's been awhile since I read a book from a male POV. I need this refreshing change to happen SO SO SO SOON. :)

    Also, love this cover!

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    1. I am so interested to read your thoughts about this-hope you love it!

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  13. I love contemporary YA, especially the thought provoking kind but I'd have probably overlooked this one if not for your review. Sometimes the ending you didn't want is the ending it had to be.

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    1. Glad to have brought it to your attention-hope you give it a chance!

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  14. Thanks for the fascinating review! I try to read as many reviews of my book as I can, and I enjoyed this one. One thing that I'm finding interesting is how people are reacting to the ending. I hate spoilers, so I won't say too much, but I will say that when I wrote the book, I thought of the ending as hopeful! That must sound strange to so many readers, who didn't read it that way. I just think there are possibilities for the future, I guess.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I like learning that you thought it was optimistic and obviously it could have been much darker...looking forward to reading more of your writing.

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  15. I really want to read this! I didn't really know much about it but I will be adding it to my TBR list. I am curious about the ending now.

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    1. I hope you give it a try-I especially want to know what you thought of the ending.

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  16. There wasn't a happy ending? I guess I need to reread that bit. OH, yeah, I do remember it, duh. Yeah, I guess I'm with you, I think a different sort of ending may have made me happier, but yet it fit the story I guess.
    I'm glad you read this one. I absolutely LOVED it, though you know that since you linked to it (thanks, btw). So happy you enjoyed it!

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    1. As the author mentioned above, he thought it was hopeful; I'm just a crazy optimistic hopeless romantic so I wanted something else. I think I decided to read this after seeing your review so I'm really glad you wrote about it.

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