Rather Be Reading » A Blog by Two Busy Girls Who Always Find Time For a Each Other

Masthead header

Estelle: Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Openly Straight by Bill KonigsbergOpenly Straight by Bill Konigsberg ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
Pages: 336
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: LGBT, boarding school, labels, friendship, lies
Format read: ARC paperback from TLA.

Summary: Rafe decides to spend his junior year on the East Coast at an all boys boarding school. What’s so crazy about that? Well, unlike his life in Boulder, he decides not to share with anyone that he is indeed gay in order to give him the chance to strip away all labels and give him the opportunity to be more than his sexual preference.

Openly Straight is a novel that encompassed so many of my favorite things: a flawed main character who felt a lot, supportive and enthusiastic parents, and heart-tugging friendship and romance. And best of all? It made me think.

Basically, I want to hug and squeeze this book until I can’t anymore.

Rafe is pretty lucky when he comes out to his parents. They are completely supportive; they barely blink an eyelash. The liberal town of Boulder, Colorado responds pretty much the same way. His teachers want his thoughts on the gay movement, he trains to give speeches to others about sexuality, and his family surprises him with an awesome coming out party. Life is pretty much hunky dory. We’ve all heard people’s hurtful experiences regarding coming out, so it’s kind of hard to believe that Rafe has anything to complain about, right?

Well. Wrong. He feels totally pigeonholed by his sexuality, and decides to go off to a boarding school on the East Coast in hopes of wiping the slate clean. He won’t exactly be back in the closet because he knows he’s gay… he just won’t really tell the peers in his all-boy school what his deal is.

The idea of going to a brand new place and being a whole new you is pretty tempting. Of course, part of it, especially in Rafe’s case, isn’t awesome because he is kind of lying in some instances. But in others, he’s finding out things about himself that he never knew. Like maybe the jock isn’t always “the jock” and maybe he can actually keep up with a bunch of guys playing football in the quad.

The challenges though… outweigh that lack of boundary Rafe feels. And as a reader, you are just waiting for everything to blow up in his face. His parents are confused by this “phase”, he’s making up stories about his closest girl friend, and this intimate friendship with Ben, a soft-spoken jock who loves to read and have deep conversations, is definitely in jeopardy, especially as he and Rafe continue to get closer. Is Ben gay? Are they just best friends? The lines are so blurred at times, that it was really hard for me to figure it out. The possibility of heartbreak is so palpable.

Konigsberg also included pieces from Rafe’s writing class — a great way for us to get this character’s back story but also to see him grow as a writer. (I adored the teacher’s comments so much because so many times what he was saying was criticism I have about what I’m reading: “show don’t tell!”) Mr. Scarborough also gives him room to think about his choices to be someone new at the school, and subtley offers some helpful perspective. He would definitely have been one of my favorite teachers too.

I feel absolutely so much love for this book that my heart is actually seizing up as I write this review. From Rafe’s refreshing narrating to watching him painstakingly make blunders and attempt to get himself out of them, Openly Straight unveils a different kind of journey towards self-discovery — one filled with laughs, love, late nights, and finding out how to balance all the parts that make you you.

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

P.S. Follow us on Bloglovin!

September 19, 2014 - 9:15 am

Pub Date: Fall Fest (Brews + a Book) - […] Narragansett Fest Lager = yum. I have never had a fall beer in a can (this is a new development) and I liked that even though this beer was heavier than I’ve been used to all summer, it was still on the light side. This beer is New England’s oldest beer and the official beer of the Red Sox  (I know this makes Andi happy) which segues perfectly into my book pick: Openly Straight (my review from last summer). […]

December 27, 2013 - 11:25 am

Estelle's End of the Year Survey (So Long 2013), Estelle - […] Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones How to Love by Katie Cotugno Criminal by Terra Elan McVoy Openly Straight by Bill Konisberg Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu […]

October 7, 2013 - 12:01 am

Openly Straight | Bill Konigsberg | Book Review - […] Be Reading – “I want to hug and squeeze this book until I can’t anymore.” Lost In A Great Book – “a fantastic read that speaks honestly” The Reading […]

September 15, 2013 - 4:30 pm

April Books & Wine - Well, I finally wrote my review and I just want to give you all the snaps for this review like how on Legally Blonde when someone gets something right, they get snaps. I agree with everything here — how you want to hug this book, how your heart seizes just thinking about it, Rafe’s flaws. Didn’t you love how much this book made you reflect and think? And just how honest it was. What a stinking great book and a stinking great review. Thanks so much for tweeting about Openly Straight and basically convincing me to read this book, quite unintentionally, I think. 🙂

August 11, 2013 - 8:09 am

Alexa Y. - This book sounds utterly amazing. I love the sound of the story! It seems like this character is pretty great, and the story is fairly refreshing, if I’m being honest. Glad to see you enjoyed this one!

August 3, 2013 - 8:42 am

Ash @ Paranormal Indulgence - When I saw what you’d rated this one, I didn’t even bother waiting before I put this on a list of books I’m buying this month. I kinda suspected I WOULD want to read this but I’m so happy that I read review and feel no doubt about it. I’m positively positive I’m going to love this book. It screams “MY THING!” so I seriously cannot wait until I’m squeezing it myself.

July 31, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - I think I’ll do just that. Buy it.

What a great topic…not wanting to be defined by your sexuality.

July 30, 2013 - 7:04 pm

Asheley Tart (@BookwormAsheley) - This is such an great idea for a book. I’ve never thought of anyone that has felt comfortable enough with coming out then feeling pigeonholed by their sexuality. I love that you love it so much because your enthusiasm is infectious. Great review, Estelle. (:

July 30, 2013 - 6:02 pm

April Books & Wine - I’ll leave a longer comment later when I am not skimming (I haven’t written my review yet and don’t want to be influenced) so I’ll just say that YES YES YES hugs and squeezes for Openly Straight!

July 29, 2013 - 7:38 pm

Bookworm1858 - I enjoyed this book a lot too even as I was cringing as Rafe spun yet another half-truth to hide his true self-I could not see it ending well and in my opinion, the ending was pretty sad (though the author sees it as pretty optimistic.)

July 29, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Hollie @ Music, Books and Tea - This book sounds awesome! I definitely need to get myself a copy of it, I love how it’s dealing with more than Rafe’s coming out story, and I can’t wait to see how the topic is tackled.

July 29, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Tara - Whoa — this book sounds incredible! The story seems very original and unlike anything I’ve read before.

July 29, 2013 - 12:31 pm

Sara (of The Page Sage) - I LOVED this book. Rafe’s flaws and the blurred lines are what make it so great. For a book that (based on its cover) looks pretty light, it really makes you think.

Lovely review! 🙂

July 29, 2013 - 11:33 am

molly @ wrapped up in books - Great review! I’m so excited for this one, but it has a long hold list at the library. I think it’s great that queer YA lit is moving beyond simply coming out stories and showing different aspects.

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email