LGBT+ Month Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Posted April 14, 2014 by Bee in Reviews / 8 Comments


LGBT Month is hosted by Cayce at Fighting Dreamer and Laura at Laura Plus Books. It runs throughout April and it’s here to celebrate LGBT readers, LGBT authors and of course LGBT books! Here on Istyria book blog there will be other reviews and next week a Bookish Babble centered around this subject. You can still sign up for this throughout the month. Just go to Laura’s or Cayce’s blog!

LGBT+ Month Review: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight

by Bill Konigsberg
Published on May 28th 2013
by Arthur A. Levine Books
Genres: Contemporary, LGBT, Romance, Young Adult
Format: eBook
Amazon | 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.

4 Stars

Well, this was another great, quick read! This is only my fourth LGBT book, but so far, all four have been great. That’s pretty amazing, isn’t it? But there’s also no other genre that gets me so worked up as this one. Is that a bad thing? No, it just means that I’m kind of sensitive about this particular topic. Openly Straight was a pretty light and fun read and I enjoyed it quite a lot!

Openly Straight is about Rafe. Rafe has been out of the closet since eight grade, he loves sports and likes to write. He isn’t teased and he goes to other high schools to talk about tolerance and while that’s important, Rafe is starting to feel like that’s all he is. That gay guy. So he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school far away and decides to keep the fact that he’s gay a secret. He makes new friends and meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And he meets Ben. And falls for him. And suddenly things are not that simple anymore.

Like I said, this was a quick and fun read! I really liked Rafe as a character. I could really connect to him. He has trouble fitting in and figuring out who he is and if he’s more than just ‘that gay guy’. And even though I’m not sure it was the best idea, I understood why he transferred to another school to start over. I get it. I’d probably want the same thing if I were him. And I enjoyed going through all this with him. The author did make it very realistic. It’s sad, but even though it’s better now than ten years ago, being gay still isn’t normal. And some people still don’t accept it, even when they are gay themselves. It’s sad, but that’s how the world is.

I loved Rafe’s parents. They were awesome. It’s so nice to read about supportive parents. Yeah maybe they were a bit too supportive, but they were so much fun and I’d love to have them as my parents. I loved Claire Olivia, Rafe’s best friend, too, but I didn’t see that much of her. I did like Albie, Rafe’s roommate, and his friend Toby. They were a fun duo and I found myself liking Rafe a lot more when he was with them. Ben… I have mixed feelings about him. Why? You’ll have to read the book to understand.  I just can’t decide whether I like him or not. And I also liked the side story about Bryce! It was sad, but I liked it.

Throughout the book are pieces of Rafe telling about his past life in his hometown, Boulder and what it was like when he came out and all that. It was an assignment for a teacher. He has to write about himself in a journal and I really liked those short segments. I got to know Rafe a bit better because of them and I like the teacher’s notes that came with them too! I just think that was cool and smart of the author because it made me, as a reader, connect to Rafe that much more. And it made me understand why he decided to go through all this trouble. There’s only one tiny bad thing and that’s that I found this book to be a little slow at times. I never got bored, but I just wanted things to move on already.

In the end, I’d say Openly Straight is a fun, honest book about friendship, being yourself, coming out (again) and being in love. I’d recommend it to everyone who likes Young Adult Contemporary books, but I know the LGBT part isn’t for everyone, so. If that’s not for you, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t recommend this book to you.


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