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Review of Openly Straight

Openly Straight
by Bill Konigsberg
High School     Levine/Scholastic     328 pp.
6/13     978-0-545-50989-3     $17.99     g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-50990-9     $17.99

Rafe is sick of being the poster child for all things gay at his uber-liberal Colorado high school: no matter how accepting everyone is, it feels like they only see one part of him. When he gets into a Massachusetts boarding school for his junior year, he decides to reboot himself as “openly straight.” By refraining from volunteering any information about his sexuality, he reasons, he will be able to live a “label-free life.” Soon he’s on the soccer team, increasingly torn between worlds as he enjoys the boys’-club camaraderie he finds on the team but also bonds with his prickly misfit roommate Albie, whose best friend is gay. Most complicated of all, Rafe’s growing friendship with sensitive, thoughtful teammate Ben turns into a profound crush. Rafe is an effective blend of earnest, perceptive, and flawed, and the deepening hole of deception he digs for himself infuses the plot — a well-constructed web of interpersonal dramas — with almost unbearable tension. Konigsberg eviscerates the “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy, slyly demonstrating just how thoroughly assumptions of straightness are embedded in everyday interactions. For a thought-provoking, creative, twenty-first-century take on the coming-out story, look no further.

From the May/June 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Claire Gross About Claire Gross

Claire Gross is the youth librarian at the Egleston branch of the Boston Public Library and a former associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine.

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