Title: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Narrator:: Nicholas Robideau and the Full Cast Family
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Run Time: 5 Hours, 56 Minutes
At a Glance: I’ve never heard an audiobook performance like this, and don’t know that I’ll ever hear another like it again.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: What if you went to a school where it was actually all right to be who you really are? That’s the enchanting place David Levithan has created in his highly acclaimed first novel. But even if the gay kids and the straight kids all get along just fine, even if it’s all right for the quarterback to be a cross dresser named Infinite Darlene and the cheerleaders to ride Harleys into the pep rally, the road to true love is still a strange and winding path, as Paul discovers when he meets the boy of his dreams. Charming, funny, delightful, and utterly heartwarming, this YA novel speaks with clarity and depth about our need to love and be loved.
Review: David Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy is the first LGBT Young Adult novel I read after discovering there was such a thing as gay fiction. I had never read anything like it before and have never read a book like it since. Now, after having listened to the audio performance of the book by Nicholas Robideau and the Full Cast Family, I can also say I’ve never listened to anything like it before and doubt I’ll ever listen to anything like it again.
The audio version of this extraordinary novel is the closest a book can get to a movie without the enhanced visual of film, but that in no way means there’s an absence of imagery in its telling. David Levithan’s wordsmithing coupled with the vocal performances of this delightful cast offers a wealth of enchantment for the reader’s/listener’s imagination. While I never cease to be impressed by a single narrator’s use of accents and cadence to delineate characters during an audio reading, I must say there’s nothing quite like hearing an entire crew of vocal actors bring a book to life, complete with piano accompaniment at just the right moments.
Paul, who is the narrator of his story, has known from the moment he became aware of himself as an autonomous being that he’s gay. It wasn’t, however, until his kindergarten teacher wrote on his progress report, “PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY AND HAS A GOOD SENSE OF SELF,” that he knew there was a word for his liking boys instead of girls. Paul was gleeful to share his new-found knowledge with his parents, of course, and his parents and kindergarten teacher were equally cheerful in their support of little Paul, encouraging his already well-grounded confidence in the fact that he was a-okay.
From kindergarten through the earliest years of elementary school, when Paul became the first openly gay third grade class president, running on the campaign slogan, “VOTE FOR ME … I’M GAY!”, and on into his sophomore year of high school, we follow Paul and his two best friends, Tony and Joni, as they grow up, and, sadly, begin to grow apart as teenage trials encroach upon them to spoil the nirvana of their childhoods.
Joni has a boyfriend, Paul’s working on getting a boyfriend, and poor Tony just has to hide the fact he’s gay from his ultra-religious parents. While these scenarios aren’t at all new in YA fiction, the magic Levithan weaves in the story to keep it fresh and vibrant is creating a high school unlike any you’ve ever witnessed before. It’s a place where Infinite Darlene (portrayed to campy perfection!) is the quarterback of the football team and also happens to be the Homecoming Queen; the cheerleaders all ride Harleys at the pep rallies; and the LGBT and straight kids don’t clash over being LGBT or straight. They clash over things like love and jealousy and the random angst of simply being a teenager.
In a meet-cute worthy of a Hepburn/Grant film, Paul and Noah’s chance encounter in a book store leads to little but an exchange of names and the discovery that Noah’s a new student at Paul’s school, and from there, Paul makes it his mission to find this beautiful new student, to get to know him better, and to hopefully make Noah his. Paul’s efforts are sweet and sincere, everything this book is, and more.
Synaesthesia plays its role in Boy Meets Boy not only in the audio performance for the reader but also as Noah teaches Paul to paint music: melodies and lyrics becoming colors and shapes. There are made up languages shared by friends, a love of words meant to fire the emotions and inspire the imagination, which carry the reader through the trials and tribulations Paul encounters on his way to boyfriend-dom. His ex, Kyle, wants Noah back now that Kyle has finally accepted he’s bisexual and realizes he let Paul go for all the wrong reasons. And Paul, being Paul, wants nothing more than for Kyle not to feel bad for arsing things up, stepping headlong into one of the classic blunders of teenage wrong-headedness—kissing Kyle to try and make him feel better.
With a fellow student laying odds on Paul’s love life—A.) he’ll end up with Noah, B.) he’ll end up with Kyle, C.) he’ll end up making a complete mess of everything and fall into the abyss of the unloved and unwanted—we follow Paul through a charming, clever, comedic and touching story filled with wacky and wonderful characters who populate this splendiferous and singular world Levithan built with his colorful and charismatic storytelling. If you love Young Adult fiction at all, strap on your sense of humor and read Boy Meets Boy. If you love Young Adult fiction and audiobooks, you absolutely can’t go wrong listening to Nicholas Robideau and the Full Cast Family bring Paul and his co-stars to life. Both the story and the performances of this book are stellar, casting their spell on us on the way to Paul’s happy ending.
You can buy Boy Meets Boy here: