Review || Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Title: Openly Straight
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Published: May 28th 2013
Format: Hardback (borrowed from library)
Genre: YA, LGBTQ
Rating: ★★★★
Find on: Goodreads

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.

I went into this book with certain expectations, but what I got was nothing like I thought it was going to be. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. What I got out of this book was so much more than I could have hoped for, and I'm so glad that I finally decided to read it. 

It was very well written, and I might have fallen in love, just a little bit, with Bill Konigsberg's writing. He managed to make the characters very believable, and he gave Rafe such a realistic voice. There was banter, and witty dialogue, but without it being too much, and it taking over.

The story is about Rafe finding himself and who he wants to be. He wants to shake the label he has as 'the gay-kid' - wants to show people that there's more to him than just that. It's an interesting take on everything, and this book comes up with some pretty interesting and important points to consider.
It’s hard to be different,” Scarborough said. “And perhaps the best answer is not to tolerate differences, not even to accept them. But to celebrate them. Maybe then those who are different would feel more loved, and less, well, tolerated. 
I really liked Rafe as a character. I thought he was so well developed, and such an interesting person, without being all that special. Mostly he is just an average Joe without any 'special' talents, and I really like that about him. To some extend I felt like I could into his head, and I understood why he wanted to shake the label. I mean, I think I've wanted to shake my own from time to time. I felt for Rafe and what he was going through. He was such a down to earth character, and I really liked that about him.

I absolutely loved the side characters, and I though they were such a great addition to the story. Rafe's roommate Albie was a strange but fun character to read about. I also really liked Toby, Albie's best friend, and would have loved to see more of him. Somehow he really made an impression on me, and snuck his way into my heart. My favorite parts of the story was definitely when we got to see Rafe, Toby, Albie, and Ben together. The things they got up to were hilarious, and I would have absolutely loved to see more of those four together. Their friendship was so new, but they quickly found their way together.

There was a great deal of humor in the story, and it made everything seem a little more light hearted. A lot of the humor came in from of Rafe's parents. They were so incredibly over the top, but somehow that still worked. The fact that they were so over the top just made them that much better. The humor and lighthearted-ness of the story also came from Albie and Toby
Straight people have it so much easier. They don’t understand. They can’t. There’s no such thing as openly straight. 
The romance. Oh the romance! It wasn't the main focus, but it still took up a great deal of the book. It was such a fragile kind of romance, and my heart ached for more of it. It was a realistic take on this type of romance, and I did have times where I wanted to yell at the characters to get their acts together. There were more than one romantic couple in the story, and that was something that I really enjoyed.

The ending felt realistic, but I would still have loved to see more. I want to know what happens to Rafe and all the others, but I guess I will just have to use my imagination for that. However, I did not see the ending coming at all. It was not what I imagined would happen, but I can see why it ended where it did, and I'm still very pleased with that.

I would honestly recommend this book to anyone. It deals with some pretty important topics that I think anyone can benefit from reading about. On top of that it's a nice story that will make you laugh and make you smile - at least once.

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