📚 Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

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Description⎮Reviewed Feb. 2017

Narrator: David Levithan
Length: 6h 15m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2013

4.75★ Audiobook⎮I started and finished Two Boys Kissing in one day. That’s very rare for me, but this was an extraordinary story.

Two Boys Kissing was intriguing on multiple levels, most notably in the way that it was told. Levithan used a Greek chorus to narrate his tale. The Greek chorus consisted of the generation of gay men lost to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. After recently having read this article about the impact of AIDS on the original San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, I was particularly interested in Levithan’s unique approach.

If you haven’t already deduced from the title, Two Boys Kissing features gay male characters. The fact that Levithan told these boys’ stories through the eyes of their predecessors was hauntingly beautiful. It gave the story an “otherworldly” quality, especially when combined with Levithan’s ethereal writing style. I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally engaged in this story. But there were numerous times when I was given chills or brought to the brink of tears. The moment that finally did me in was when Levithan described the lost generation as the role models who would-have-been and the current generation as the role models who will-be.

Two Boys Kissing  was such a captivating story to hear. A perfect balance was struck between the heaviness of the underlying subject matter and the light heartedness of the story’s current events. Harry and Craig are too high schoolers trying to break the Guinness world record for longest kiss (32 hours). Much of the story takes place within that timeframe, but the omniscient Greek chorus narrator(s) actually follow a few other boys in addition to Harry and Craig. In that sense, the story is told through multiple points-of-view, though always in third person via the Greek chorus. I apologize if that is difficult to understand (it’s difficult to describe!). But trust me, you have to experience it. I’m surprised at how easy it was to follow each of the boys’ stories.

Two Boys Kissing is the type of novel that affects each reader differently. I started listening to it because I was in the mood to hear something different. I finished it with an entirely new outlook on the history of AIDS in America and the crossgenerational impact that it has had. That wasn’t the entire focus of Two Boys Kissing,  but it was the aspect of the story that had the most profound impact on me. I’ve already started to look into Levithan’s other work.

Narration review: Around the 75% completion mark, I was so impressed with the narration of this audiobook so much that I had to find out the narrator’s name. I was stunned to discover that David Levithan himself narrated this audiobook. Author narration can be a polarizing topic and I thought I knew where I stood until hearing Two Boys Kissing.  Levithan’s jaw-dropping narration skills left me in absolute amazement. His performance was delivered with the kind of feeling and hush-toned reverence that could cause some professional narrators to reevaluate their work. It makes sense that he would have an emotional connection to his own work, but the most impressive part is that he was able to audibly convey that connection to the listener. That is the feat that many professional narrators attempt, but only some are able to achieve. Levithan should be extremely proud of this performance.  ♣︎

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