1 star/heart/whatever: Do I really have to give it anything? Pretty much a zero.
2 whatevers: Meh.
3 whatevers: Okay, you're on to something here
4 whatevers: I like it. I'd tell my friends it was worth the read
5 whatevers: I am buying this book because even though there's already too many books and not enough time, I will want to read this again.
My "five whatevers" book of the week? Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsburg. Straight or gay, I wish all my friends, enemies, and frenemies would read this book. Protagonist Rafe has been out since 8th grade. He lives a life free from discrimination in Boulder, CO, and gives tolerance speeches at schools. But what he really wants is to be a regular guy, not that gay guy. Why does his sexual orientation have to be his headline?
Rafe transfers to an all-boys boarding school across the country and makes the decision to be, well, openly straight. He's not going to hook up with any girls, but he wants to know what it's like to have people see him first and not gay first. You can probably guess what happens to Rafe at his all-boys school, of course once he's pretending to be straight he'll finally find the perfect guy to be his boyfriend. But Rafe's journey opens up so many questions about how we let labels define both ourselves and others. Albie, Toby, and Ben are wonderfully developed secondary characters and I want to take a class with Mr. Scarborough, Rafe's writing teacher, who pushes Rafe to take his writing above and beyond.
Here's an excerpt:
"...[T]he fact that there was this party and everyone other than my grandmother was pretending that something wasn't true about me made me feel slimy, like I needed to take a long shower. While everyone else was talking, I wandered back over to the tofu pig. It looked real, unless you got up close to it. Then you could see: It was very much not. Up close, you could see how the artist molded the tofu, and the places were there were cracks in the pigskin. You could even see the finger indentations where he'd tried to massage the tofu flat. It was like when you approach a woman whom you think is beautiful and you see the caked-on blush and mascara, and you realize what you are seeing isn't her; it's her vanity. You're seeing her attempt at beauty and it's the opposite of beauty that you're looking at." (Konigsburg 236).
This book is humorous and real - don't miss the trip. Happy reading!