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This novel features a gay protagonist named Paul who is a high school sophomore. About his town, he says, “There isn’t really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best.” The result is that Paul has both gay and straight friends who hang out together. At a local bookstore, Paul falls in love with Noah, but their relationship is complicated by Paul’s ex, Kyle, who wants to make amends for ending their relationship, and maybe take it up again. Paul’s friend Tony has a problem with very religious parents, so the gang helps Tony get out to a “study group” on Saturday nights. Paul’s friend Joni has taken up with Chuck, who doesn’t treat her very well. Infinite Darlene, football team quarterback and Homecoming Queen, flounces onstage with regular advice. Tony’s parents catch on to the “study group,” which causes a crisis, but everything ends happily, and Paul says about the results, “It’s a wonderful world.”

So, this is a great little book, but it reads like fantasy. Levithan has totally written around the elephant in the room, which is sexual orientation. He has built a world where being gay doesn’t matter, and being a drag queen doesn’t prevent Darlene from being the football team quarterback and the Homecoming Queen at the same time. There are real reasons to do something like this. In order for something to happen, somebody has to frame the picture. What’s unsaid is that Levithan is presenting a changed world order where gay teens are accepted for what they are and treated as friends without regard to their sexual orientation. He hopes that a lot of kids will read this and take it for reality.

The novel won a Lambda Literary Award in 2004.

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