Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Cover via Goodreads.

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

Is it every gay guy’s duty to get out of the closet? Rafe doesn’t want to deceive people, but he hates being “that one gay kid” back in his hometown. When he moves from Boulder, Colorado to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he keeps his homosexuality a secret and pretends to like girls – soon enough, he’s part of the jock pack, and he really likes it. But being openly straight isn’t as easy as Rafe thinks, and he feels the pressure when he develops feelings for his teammate Ben, who might be the only guy who really understands him.

Rafe took awhile to grow on me, but about halfway through the novel I found myself rooting for him. Konigsberg addresses a multitude of real issues: the conflict between ingroups and outgroups, the effects of labeling, the importance of your sexuality in regard to your identity, and more. Konigsberg gives Rafe an honest voice to delve into these topics – his confusion and search for self never felt forced or scripted, and the second half of this novel almost pushed it to a 5-star rating. Contemporary YA fans will love Openly Straight for its quality writing and its quirky, fresh teenage perspective.

I also adored the side characters in this novel. Rafe’s friendship with Claire Olivia improved as the novel progressed, a great feat for a platonic relationship within a YA novel. Many people will appreciate the presence of Rafe’s ultra-liberal parents; his bond with them and how it was sometimes strained but always loving made me smile. Rafe’s relationship with Ben as a whole won me over with great speed – its development and denouement served as my favorite parts of the book. Their bromance triggered most of my fanboy-like squeals of joy.

Overall, highly recommended for fans of realistic YA novels, glbt books, or a well-written teenage voice in general. One of my favorites of this year so far.

*you can also check out my thoughts on David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell and Roxana by Daniel Defoe here and here, respectively.


Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

15 responses to “Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

  1. Gary Pete

    Reblogged this on Queer Landia.

  2. I’m such a fan of this book- glad to see you enjoyed it too! Your review makes me want to read it again 🙂

  3. I’ve seen this book around a lot, but I didn’t really know all that much about it. I’m glad you enjoyed this one so much! This definitely sounds like a book I need to pick up soon.

  4. Nice review! I am seeing more and more interest in YA reading. But your reviews are usually what intrigue me the most.

    • YA books deserve the attention they receive, for the most part. Thank you for reading and commenting – I hope you check out this book or more young-adult fiction in the future.

  5. Great review! I absolutely adored this book too (also took me a while to get into it); you should read his debut book Out of the Pocket when it’s released in paperback soon.

  6. A few things here. First, I love the intelligence and ease of explanation in all of your reviews. I noticed this book in the YA section a few years ago. I keep contemplating buying it. After reading your review, I think it is finally time to give it a try. Thank you for your excellent description and breakdown of the book. Keep up your great work, Thomas!

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