Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg Book Review

Openly Straight by Bill KonigsbergBook: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Arthur A. Levine Books, On Sale Now

Book Info: YA Contemporary, Review copy provided by the publisher, Available in HC 336 pages

Rating: 5 / 5 Stars

More Info: Goodreads | IndieBound | Amazon

Openly Straight is a witty and thought-provoking read about identity and the labels that define us. Can you hide an important part of yourself from the world and still be you?

Rafe Goldberg is a high school junior and unapologetically gay. He lives in Boulder, Colorado with his supportive, slightly embarrassing parents (Think the parents in Easy A).  He came out to his parents when he was in 8th grade, and they took it really well, even throwing a Coming Out party for him complete with balloons and party hats (The party hats said Yay! Rafe is Gay!). He was not bullied at school, and in fact gave talks to other schools about his overall positive experiences. But, he feels like the fact that he’s gay is all people notice about him. He sees himself as more than a gay advocate; he’s into soccer and writing but thinks the gay label is what stands out.

Rafe gets the idea to start over at a new school out of the area. He goes to an all-boys boarding school in Massachusetts. Right away he’s part of the athlete clique at school and loves that they think of him as a jock. Rafe decides that he’s going to keep his sexuality under wraps, and enjoy this new anonymity. One of his teachers, and faculty advisor of the GSA, is in on the secret, though, and encourages Rafe to journal about the experience as a writing exercise.

Things get complicated in Rafe’s social experiment when he falls for his teammate Ben. Ben is smart, sensitive, articulate, and totally dreamy, but he’s straight. Or is he? Their friendship transcends labels, but is it all a lie if Rafe can’t tell Ben the truth?

I really savored this book and loved reading about Rafe’s experiences. Rafe is such an endearing character, and I also really fell for Ben. Their friendship is just too sweet. And yay for Rafe’s wonderfully supportive parents! Even though they and his best friend from Boulder aren’t on board with the going back into the closet plan, they do their best to support him.

This book gave me a lot to think about regarding identity and labels, and it was just so funny and refreshing too. I’m a new fan of Bill Konigsberg, and hope he revisits these characters in a follow-up book.

Openly Straight is an awesome read for LGBT Pride Month (and especially this week with the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down DOMA). To celebrate Pride Month in fact, 4 gay authors, including Konigsberg, recently went on an Openly YA tour in the Northeast to talk about their latest books.

I think Openly Straight is a must for high school libraries, and anyone who struggles with their own label, whether they are gay or straight, will identify with Rafe.


16 thoughts on “Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg Book Review

  1. Book Blather says:

    This sounds wonderful, you’ve made me want to read it! 🙂 Thank you! (Easy A is a fab film, isn’t it?!)

    1. Lucy says:

      Yes, Easy A is fab! You don’t usually see such awesome parents in YA books and I think that’s a shame. Hope you enjoy Openly Straight if you get the chance to read it!

  2. This sounds like a really great read and one that raises some interesting questions. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it now! 🙂

    1. Lucy says:

      Oh, I hope you do check it out, Livvy! It did give me a lot to think about.

  3. BermudaOnion says:

    This sounds like an excellent read – one that would make us think about the way we label people.

    1. Lucy says:

      I think you’d like this one, Kathy. It would probably make for an excellent book club discussion.

  4. Thomas says:

    Annie linked me to your review, this book sounds resplendent! I always appreciate a fresh voice in LGBTQ YA and this book’s plot seems promising as well. Great review.

    1. Lucy says:

      I hope you read it, Thomas! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. And yes, resplendent is a perfect word for the book 🙂

  5. Tova says:

    Wow, this sounds really interesting. I’m always intrigued by turning things that have become tropes on their heads, like the trope of being in the closet. And the parents sound hilarious 🙂
    The author isn’t related to E.L. Konigsberg, is he?

    1. Lucy says:

      I think the two spell their names differently, but that would be cool if they were related! And yes, that’s exactly it- the spin on the trope does make the book very interesting. Hope you enjoy Openly Straight if you get the chance to check it out!

  6. bkonigsberg says:

    I am no related to E.L., no… I wish! Thank you for the delightful review of Openly Straight! I’m so glad you enjoyed it…

  7. This is the second rave I’ve heard of this book! Must add it to my pile! 🙂

  8. […] Rather Be Reading – “I want to hug and squeeze this book until I can’t anymore.” Lost In A Great Book – “a fantastic read that speaks honestly” The Reading Date – “I really savored this book” […]

  9. […] Konigsberg – Just based on Openly Straight alone Bill Konigsberg has earned favorite status. Hmmm, I should pick up his other book, Out of the […]

  10. […] Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg – This book made me lol, and I just loved the theme of labels and sexuality. […]

  11. […] Let’s be optimistic and say I can bring my kindle, okay? A few 2013 favorites are: Sex & Violence, Out of the Easy, Fangirl, The Reece Malcolm List, This Song Will Save Your Life, and Openly Straight. […]

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