A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.
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 breaking 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.
This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself– Goodreads
I must be honest with you, Konigsberg is a local author who I have met numerous times. I’ve also heard him read from Openly Straight more times than I should admit. That being said, it does not sway my review. At. All.
This is the story of Rafe. The gay guy. Because that is what he is known for. Being the gay guy at his school and in his life. For once he would like to be seen as Rafe and just Rafe. But since the moment he came out to his parents, who openly embraced it, he’s never been just Rafe. But Rafe has a chance. Rafe goes to an all-boys’ boarding school on the East Coast and for the first time has the chance to become just Rafe.
Of course nothing is that easy. In the course of being just Rafe, he becomes more sure of who he was and you know what, he kind of liked who he was back home in Colorado. Because at least there he was himself. On the East Coast, he’s Rafe. But not really. He’s hiding a big part of himself from everyone. There is a point there that straight people don’t hide who they are, because they don’t have to, and I agree with it. But, understandably the story would not have been the same if Rafe would have went to the East Coast the same person he was in Colorado.
The interesting part to me was the relationships that Rafe made while in New England, not only with those at the boarding school: his teacher (the one person who knew the truth), his roommate and his roommate’s friend, and of course Ben (more on Ben soon) but also his relationships with those at home. His parents never really understood why he had to do this, and his best friend from Boulder? Well they got into a huge fight throughout the novel because of this development in his life. And then there is Ben. Ben who becomes Rafe’s best friend in New England. They are extremely close and then something happens. Something that Ben isn’t really ready to figure out because Ben’s family isn’t Rafe’s family. And while I love Ben, I am of course upset that his ending isn’t tied up in a neat happy bow because my heart broke for him numerous times throughout this novel, there was really nowhere else Konigsberg could have ended it because the ending worked.
It broke my heart, it made me laugh. I cannot recommend this book enough.