Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight Cover

(Chantel)

3/5 – This is a funny and frank book that explores different points of view when it comes to exploration, sexuality, male friendship, and labels. As a female, that was really interesting to read.

This book is about Rafe, a gay teenager from Colorado who is tired of being “the gay kid” at his school, so he enrolls at an all boys school on the East Coast and decides not to tell anyone he’s gay.

First off, this book had me laughing out loud in multiple parts and I love that. It was one of the best parts of the book. I will always pick up a funny book over a depressing one and the reason I finished this book so quickly was I needed a bit of levity. This book had a lot of charm to it and even though it wasn’t perfect, I enjoyed it overall. I can normally excuse flaws if I enjoy a book and nothing really was terribly off-putting.

One thing that was refreshing was seeing a book written about high school kids that didn’t seem watered down. I definitely cringed at some of the things said, but I can remember saying stupid shit when I was younger.

The main character, Rafe switched between likable and whiny for me and even though by the end of the book he seemed to have learned his lesson I didn’t completely buy it. It seemed rushed. As someone who has switched her labels and avoided labels until I finally found one I was comfortable with, I get it, but I don’t think I was ever on his side. I don’t think I ever understood his desire to get away from being “the gay kid”. Perhaps this is because I’m not in high school anymore or because it’s tied into his male identity, even if I didn’t understand it, I found it interesting to read.

However, I found the character of Ben far more interesting. There is a sequel to this book called Honestly Ben and it’s through his point of view. I was hoping it was a continuation and not a retelling through his point of view, and I’m glad it is a continuation. I’m hesitant to read it, however, because he goes on a very different journey and I don’t know if I’m interested in reading about it. He is a very interesting character and I don’t want to spoil too much, but a lot of the exploration comes from his character. I’m just not certain I want to read a book that continues that arc.

In the end, I was satisfied with the book and felt it read quickly and was a funny, cute YA book with a gay main protagonist. I’m just not sure if I’m invested enough to keep reading about these characters.  

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