Sep 7, 2013

Openly Straight

Rafe is an openly gay teenager in Boulder, CO, a place where his sexuality is rarely looked down upon. His friends and family are more than supportive; his hippie parents even threw him a surprise coming out party.  But Rafe is tired of always being labeled as "the gay guy." There's more to him beyond his sexuality. So Rafe heads out to a brand new, all boys boarding school and willingly puts himself back in the closet so his other traits can shine through.  What follows is an interesting exploration of how Rafe can or cannot be true to himself when he omits a major aspect of his life and how this omission impacts not only his actions, but his peers' as well. 

In Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg puts an interesting twist on the LGBT young adult novel. Many times the struggle is coming out or finding acceptance as a gay teen, but here the struggle (in Rafe's original assessment) is finding acceptance as a regular guy. Konigsberg explores labels outside of "gay" and how pigeonholing people into these roles almost never reflects accurate assessments of their lives.  Eventually Rafe comes to meaningful realizations about how he perceives himself as a result of his experiment.

I would recommend this book to any teen who shows interest in LGBT literature, particularly because it is a refreshing plot.  The focus on other teen issues is also prevalent and would appeal to teens looking for books that deal with bullying, depression, exploration of sexuality, and/or school hierarchies.  Sometimes books about LGBT issues can be (rightly) overly emotional. This book succeeds in discussing difficult topics with humor. It's a very, very funny book with a lot of heart.

P.S. I knew I loved this book when on page 12, a boy is described as wearing a shirt that says "I Want to Go To There." Later, my love was reaffirmed when a character states that he's upset because he didn't get tickets to the New Kids on the Block reunion tour.  


  1. Hmmm...I don't think I know this one, so I'll have to make sure my bookstore carries it. Thanks for the review!

    1. It was released in June of this year, so it's very recent!