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Openly Straight av Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight (urspr publ 2013; utgåvan 2013)

av Bill Konigsberg (Författare)

Serier: Openly Straight (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7714329,161 (3.87)7
Tired of being known as "the gay kid", Rafe Goldberg decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school--but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.
Titel:Openly Straight
Författare:Bill Konigsberg (Författare)
Info:Arthur A. Levine Books (2013), 336 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Openly Straight av Bill Konigsberg (2013)


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This is a different take on the narrative of a gay teenager who goes away from home to a Private Boys Boarding School. Rafe, a high school junior from Boulder, Colorado, has been out and proud since he was in the eighth grade as the novel relates his journey. He's fortunate in that he comes from a loving family and lives in an accepting town, so he's never had to deal with slurs or bullying because of his sexuality. However, he's recently begun to believe that many around him just view him as just a gay person, rather than as a unique individual with many other facets to his character. As a result, when he transfers from a public high school in Boulder to a private boarding school in Massachusetts — an all-boys school, no less – he decides to keep his sexuality hidden from his new peers.

Rafe's plan, predictably, does not turn out as he had hoped. While he realizes that separating himself from his gay identity opens up a new social world for him, he also discovers that repressing such a vital part of himself comes at a cost. In the end, he'll have to navigate the turbulent waters of honesty, truth, desire, and self-awareness – a journey made more difficult by his growing attraction to Ben, one of his classmates.

The characters are lively and current, offering realistic depictions of adolescent relationships, a few truly romantic moments, serious consideration of adolescent issues, and a healthy dose of humor. A unique aspect of the story that I found fascinating was the interaction between Rafe and his writing teacher presented through writing exercises interpolated throughout the narrative. These provided additional details about Rafe's background and his personality; however the highlight of the novel was the reversal by the main character of his role as an out gay and the repercussions for both himself and others that result from his actions. That this was handled in a believable way was what I found to be the best aspect of what might have been just an average story.

Openly Straight, with its convoluted narrative and a complicated finish, is a gripping and profoundly truthful work that you won't want to put down. This is the kind of well-written book that spoils me as a reader. I have less patience with books that do not meet the standard set by this one with its engaging story about coming of age as a gay boy. ( )
1 rösta jwhenderson | May 3, 2022 |
Not one of the better books I've read this year. Definitely thought Rafe was a brat and an ungrateful one at that, as his mother, a little too gently, points out. It's not that I don't get what he was trying to do; who wouldn't like to live a different life, try on a different pair of shoes, a different suit of clothes for a while? Yet, by the same token, by doing these things Rafe suppresses a real part of himself and ends up hurting someone (actually several people) he really cares about in the process.

And what is with the notion of "label free"? Why is it such a big deal these days? Everyone has more than one label and those shift and change as you grow up. "Living label free" is a joke that maybe should be pushed out of the common parlance. Get over it and move on, this topic lost its interesting aspects soon after it appeared.

Mr. Scarborough and his quote should have been deep-sixed in the editing process, along with the journal entries, which did little to add to the otherwise overlong story. By the end, I was tempted to start skimming - something not really easy to do when listening to an audio book.

Another thing that kind of slid under the radar, since Rafe hears and reports it, but doesn't react to it: at the end, when he comes out to Stephen (a fellow soccer teammate) about being gay and Stephen makes this weird remark about making different showering arrangements. My reaction was WTF? Rafe's? Nada, zip, zero. Really Rafe? Underreact much?

RE: drinking. Rafe, at one point, says he doesn't like alcohol and doesn't really drink that much, if ever, yet here he quaffs it like water (especially the vodka - mixed with Gatorade. Bleh). He also mentions that his parents tried to normalize alcohol at the holidays to keep him from drinking too much - didn't work very well here, now did it? And the school should be ashamed of itself for letting these kids (because it seemed everyone had access even though they were way underage) get away with all the drinking. ( )
  fuzzipueo | Apr 24, 2022 |
This is a wonderful book, rich in feeling and understanding and strong in developing empathy and compassion for the book’s characters and the struggles they face.
Konigsberg makes readers feel the pain, frustration, angst, desperation and love that main character Rafe feels and struggles to express.
Konigsberg understands that in today’s world, the small minded judgment and condemnation of homosexuality that characterized past decades has mercifully led to a new era of compassion and acceptance. He also knows, however, that quick and easy sweeping labels can be applied to people totally obliterating all of the other characteristics of the actual person.
As it would be in real life, so it is for the book’s main character, Rafe. Because he has come out as gay, he is treated differently, perceived differently and in many ways restricted from the fullness of his capacity to just be himself. Yet when he tries to hide the label, to escape its limitations, the result is disaster, as living a lie almost always is.
I have been reluctant to read either YA or LGBT books in the past and I believe I am all the poorer for that reluctance. A couple of years ago, I read a noted author who claimed that much of today’s best writing is Young Adult fiction. The snob in me shrugged and went on NOT reading YA books until I happened to read one thatI did not know was YA until I had read it. And then, another. Both lacked some of the depth I would have found in writing targeting more mature readers, yet both were quite wonderful in other ways. In fact, both did a far better job of character development than I often experienced in other books.
After making this discovery, I happened across James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room”: tremendous in its character development, marvelous in its capacity to build empathy and sympathy from readers and wonderful in its overall portrayal of the pain and desperation of socially unapproved love. It is still among the top 10 or 15 books I have ever read. Of course, it deals with the whole realm of what being gay must be.
I later read “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” a YA book dealing with the same issue Baldwin’s novel had confronted.
After those experiences, I was hooked on YA books and far more open and even interested in reading LGBT focused materials. It is amazing what an open mind can do to improve your life.
Read this book. It’s worth it!

( )
1 rösta PaulLoesch | Apr 2, 2022 |
If I had been reading this for the love story, I would've been highly satisfied, even given the way it ends. But I wasn't really reading this for the love story: I was reading it for Rafe's journey of identity. And that didn't quite...arrive.

Throughout the book, Rafe's writing teacher keeps urging him to stop performing in his writing, to treat the writing as a conversation and an exploration, not a monologue. And that's kind of how I felt about Rafe's story by the end of the book. He has a nice, tidy realization about what seems to be a very complex issue. And while I know that Rafe might truly feel it's a nice, tidy issue, I was hoping for more.

More perspectives, more struggle, more depth. More conversations, more compassion, more common ground. I'm doubtless looking in the wrong place; this is a YA novel, after all. But fiction has such power when it comes to exploring others' points of view, and I was hoping this book would offer an opportunity to see loneliness and defining oneself from an angle I hadn't explored before.

I wanted to recognize my own journey to self and self-confidence in Rafe's, but I couldn't. And that wasn't because he's gay and I'm not; it's because mine still continues today, and Rafe already appears to have his sorted out. And the fact that he seems completely unaware of all the labels he sticks on other people, pre-determined as Good and Bad irrespective of the individual (e.g., only nuns in Boulder could be so accepting of gay people), just left me feeling even more alienated from his experience.

The humility and honesty and uncertainty with which Rafe's love story concludes is much more what I'd hoped to find in his journey of identity. ( )
  slimikin | Mar 27, 2022 |
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Tired of being known as "the gay kid", Rafe Goldberg decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school--but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.

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