Book Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

 

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It made me laugh. It frustrated me. It didn’t make me cry, but I definitely felt some heartstring tugs. The best description of the book actually comes from onf the secondary characters, Claire Olivia, best friend of the main character, Rafe. She says “This is my gay friend who decided he was straight and single-handedly wreaked havoc at an all-boys school in Massachusetts this fall. He’s gay again and home for Christmas, so, yay!”

Openly Straight isn’t a coming out story. It’s more of a self-realization sstory. Rafe, a junior in high school, has moved from his family, friends, and openly gay life in Boulder, Co to attend Natick, a boarding school for boys in Massachusetts. He decides that he’s not going to tell anyone at his new school that he’s gay, for reasons you really should let him tell you. Shenanigans ensue, but not the fun kind. Sort of the life altering, devastating kind, including a not-quite-boyfriend with whom Rafe is definitely in love.  Rafe comes to some rather earth shattering conclusions about what it means not to really be oneself, constantly worrying about what other people think of you, and being “on” all the time. Through class assignments and social encounters, Rafe learns to be himself, his whole self.

The story is told in first person. I found that to be an odd choice and a bit weird when we get to the writing assignments, which are also in first person. It is a lot easier to tell the author from the character with this sort of story within a story, but still an odd choice. The not-quite-boyfriend interactions between Rafe and *spoiler* are well done and easily the best part of the novel. The secondary characters in back home in Boulder, Co, if not full three-dimensionl characters, they at least have enough depth to support Rafe’s story adequately. Of them, I think I liked Rafe’s mom the best.

I gave it 4 starts on Goodreads for the laughs and the relationship between Rafe & *spoiler*.

That’s all for now. TLL

P.S. That’s picture I took of the book cover!

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