Sunday, August 11, 2019

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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 break 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.

(Synopsis from Goodreads). 

My Thoughts:
Lately, I've been trying to catch up on books that I've owned for several years. It always makes me feel accomplished to get backlist books off of my TBR, and to be able to clear space for new books. I've had Openly Straight since it released in 2013, so I decided to give it a try. I've missed reading LGBTQ+ books lately, and thought it would be interesting to read one of the first LGBTQ+ books in YA (that I know of). I loved this book so much.

I'm not sure what I loved the most about Openly Straight. I do have to admit, I was bored for about the first fifty pages or so of the book. I thought about DNF'ing it. I'm so glad I continued with it. Iafter those fifty pages, I loved the rest of the book. I thought Rafe was a great character. Even though he had his flaws that could be frustrating at times, I enjoyed reading about his interactions with others. I especially enjoyed his parents. As someone who is openly bisexual, I wish I would have had the great support system that he has when I was growing up.

Another part of Openly Straight that I loved was Rafe's friends. I have to admit I wasn't a big fan of Claire Olivia, although she did become more tolerable by the end. I did love his roommate Albie, and his friend Toby. They cracked me up. I especially loved reading about their scanner pong adventures. The one with the old lady had me losing it laughing while I was reading about it. Most importantly, I enjoyed Ben as a character too. Everything that happens between Rafe and Ben was so emotional that it felt real. The reader could feel everything they were going through together, including their chemistry. Certain scenes toward the end of the book between the two of them had me tearing up.

After a rough start, I found myself loving Openly Straight. I think it is one of the best LGBTQ+ novels that I've ever read, and I've read quite a few. I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I'll probably start it as soon as I can. There's a cliffhanger moment for Ben and Rafe towards the end of the book, and I need to know how it resolves. I also want more of the wacky and fun side characters. 

I give Openly Straight: 4.5/5.

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I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was ni no way compensated for this review.

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