These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
PW Reviews 2004 September #1
Through a series of poems, Levithan (Boy Meets Boy) introduces readers to a group of friends and acquaintances, including a gay couple celebrating their one-year anniversary, a girl whose mother is dying and an outsider who fills his notebook with “ink explosions of thought.” His characters represent a diverse range of sexuality, race and social standing, and most struggle with love relationships, from a boy who wants to help his anorexic girlfriend, to a girl with an unrequited crush on a straight friend. The author experiments with different voices and styles (one series unfolds in song lyrics); some of these poems work better than others. An energetic verse, “Gospel,” from a black choir girl who feels bullies “[push her]/ to a kindness they would never/ understand” to help the aforementioned white outsider, reads as authentic and thought-provoking, while an alphabetical poem about a break-up, constrained by its form, grows tedious. Readers may have trouble tracking all of the characters and the various connections between them, but they will find clever lines and inspiring ideas in many of the poems here (“Most of the limits/ are of our own world’s devising”). Ultimately, that is what makes this ambitious project a realm worth exploring. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2006 June #4
Through a series of poems, readers meet a group of friends and acquaintances, reflecting a diverse range of sexuality, race and social standing. PW called it “a realm worth exploring.” Ages 12-up. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2004 September
Gr 9 Up-Most readers will find someone they can relate to in this enchanting collection of linked poems that delve deep and go far beyond the original stereotypes. Twenty teenagers-sensitive outsiders, cruel popular girls, body-obsessed jocks, gay teens in the throes of first love-take turns pouring their hearts onto the pages, detailing their loneliness, heartaches, hopes, and joys. All attend the same high school, and as the book progresses their stories slowly weave together to form a larger view of the school community. In the first selection, for instance, Daniel talks about his relationship with Jed; Jed’s view of their romance closes the book. Though friendships and romantic relationships grow and change, character is much more the focus here than plot. Each chapter contains four points of view, and it will take patient readers to determine who’s who and exactly how they are linked. Effort is rewarded, however, in selections such as “The Patron Saint of Stoners,” in which a girl seeks out a drug dealer for reasons few will guess. Another standout is “Experimentation,” in which a boy writes about his sexual experiences with astonishing insight and tenderness. Thoughtful teens will find much to appreciate here.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Booklist Reviews 2004 September #1
Gr. 9-12. In this hugely ambitious novel in verse, Levithan (Boy Meets Boy, 2003) again writes of both gay and straight young love with integrity and insight. But this time, Levithan asks a lot of patience from his readers. The novel is separated into five parts; at the start of each, a title page lists four names. Although nothing in the book design makes it clear, readers will eventually figure out that Daniel is the author of the first poem, and he and the others all attend the same school. At first, the poems seem largely unconnected (Daniel writes of approaching his one-year anniversary with his boyfriend, Jed, for instance; Clara of buying pot for her cancer-stricken mother), but readers who pay close attention (and don’t mind frequently flipping back to see who’s writing what and who wrote what about whom four poems ago) will be rewarded; a kind of narrative emerges around Jed, who is a charming and well-liked kid. Many readers, even good ones, will be off put by the challenging, often confusing structure. But the distinct voices and plethora of poetic styles make for interesting reading, and some teens will return to this again and again, seeking to uncover the subtle connections between the characters within the poems. ((Reviewed September 1, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
These discrete poems are linked by their themes of love and heartbreak and by their putative authorship by high school classmates. Resolutely confessional, the poems take in all manner of love, and a range of forms helps vary the tone. Some of the poems are too long–as is the book as a whole–but Levithan has a fluent, lyrical voice, well worth hearing. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2004 August
High school romance is exquisitely portrayed in this special volume of twenty lyrical free verse pieces. Each selection represents a teen’s feelings on love, his or her position in high school life, the fragile nature of personal relationships, or the universality of experiences. Phrases such as “My girlfriend is in love with Holden Caulfield”; “when I was twelve, I decided to be Anne Frank for Halloween”; “loss takes as much as love does, sometimes more”; “he holds me and it’s that drowning kind of holding”; “teenagers are never joking”; and “there is no measure to volatility” provide examples of the powerful emotions that demand the attention of the reader. One might imagine that for every reader, there will be a slightly different connection to one of the characters or to one of their artful perspectives. In a similar vein to the work of Sonya Sones and Mel Glenn, Levithan displays exceptional talent in his inner-voice narrative. The claddagh, a Celtic token of affection, is explained in “Possibility,” and it is chosen for the cover art. The originality of this highly recommended and unusually realistic work of fiction reflects upon heterosexual and gay relations. Its messages resonate like beautiful melodies.-Nancy Zachary PLB $17.99. ISBN 0-375-92845-6. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2004 Voya Reviews.