Title: Openly Straight
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Release Date: May 28th, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
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.
This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.
I loved this book to pieces. When I first saw this book sitting on the shelves in my local library, it had definitely made me curious. After reading the synopsis I was immediately sold. A book based on an LGBT is a genre I’ve always been wanting to explore and learning more about and so I was glad I made the choice to start with this one.
We are first introduced to our main protagonist, Rafe, who has always been labeled as “the gay guy” by those around him. So when he decides to attend an all boys’ boarding school, he is determined to leave his label and start fresh and see what it’s like to be straight. However, it wasn’t as easy as he had though it’d be. When he starts growing strong feelings for someone who is the same gender as him in a place where his true identity is a secret, things start turning tables. He starts to realize that in order to fit in, he has to deny the truth more often. However, little does he know that one small lie may lead into something worse to the point where others are afflicted by his actions. It is now up to Rafe to muster up the courage to be honest not only with others, but to himself as well.
The characters were phenomenal in this book. You could definitely understand how they felt, as if you were the characters them selves. Rafe was a great protagonist and it was interesting to see him grow throughout the books, especially his relationship with the supporting cast. We not only get to see Rafe go through whats it’s like to be homosexual, but also straight. We see the struggles he face in tough situations such as denying the truth and hiding the “real” him. Slowly, Rafe learns more about himself, and what it means to be labeled as “gay”.
Despite the theme of this book being based on serious, real life issues, Bill Konigsberg overall balanced it out by adding a comedic tone to it, making it not necessarily a light read but definitely more entertaining to continue reading.
In the end, this book concluded with an important message that the author is trying to get through to the readers. That is to “accept who you are”. It doesn’t matter whether you are homosexual or straight, because in order to survive a world where you are judged and labeled by others, you have to embrace who you are as a whole. So be proud of who you are, as there is only one of you and will only ever be one of you in this entire universe. (As cheesy as it may sound, I’m only speaking the truth here.)
A book full of such raw and realistic characters experiencing real life situations, Bill Konigsberg created a powerful novel that has touched my heart.