[Book Review] Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

“We were dancers and drummers and standers and jugglers, and there was nothing anyone needed to accept or tolerate. We celebrated.”

*I was reccomended to read this book by Becky Albertalli, author of SIMON VS The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Thanks, Becky!*

Openly Straight is a personal, humorous, and authentic read. The writing style encourages the reader to keep turning page after fabulous page. *My official rating would have 4.5 stars*

The Pluses

I feel that Rafe was well developed. I was able to develop a personal connection with him, and empathize as I read the novel. The character development wasn’t tedious, either. It wasn’t telling, but more showing. Showing us the multiple sides of Rafe, not just his sexuality, but his personality.

I felt a connection to Claire Olivia, who I might’ve liked better than Rafe, honestly. She is intelligent, understanding, and quirky. But most of all, the authenticity of her character is what drew me to her most.

I was able to dislike, and even want to punch some of these characters. Specifically, the homophobic jocks. I thought Steve was going to be the love interest, in the beginning; but now seeing his personality, I am glad he wasn’t. And that’s important, that an author is able to develop characters well enough that you could react to them as if they were real, rather than fictitious.

I found myself wishing that the Boulder and Natick in this story was real. I liked the developments of the different neighborhoods, specifically Boulder. I also really enjoyed the development of the people in the town: those that danced in the end, those that were stared at in the end, and also the SEGWAY NUNS! Those are my favorite community members in this story. Also, I loved seeing this quirky family of Rafe’s. There aren’t many families in YA, but when there are, they are usually epic. This was certainly achieved in OPENLY STRAIGHT, and reminded me fondly of the family in SIMON VS.

I liked the dialogue, and also Ben! I was disappointed that they didn’t end up together, I was expecting that, and looking forward to that ending. However, this ending was more realistic and turned out to be more thought provoking, and fun.

The Minuses

Graphic imagery. Let me tell you, and this is actually kind of a funny one. My main problem was this: I did not enjoy the sudden and unwanted visualization of Gorilla Butt in the shower scenes, or anyone else in the shower scene for that matter. But especially solemn Robinson.

Why all the deep shower scenes? These were great for character development, and funny. Kind of like a thinking in the shower-great ideas come in the shower type thing.

Although I did love Bill Konigsberg’s writing style, I felt there were some parts that were *painfully awkward*. I guess that comes in with the whole authencity of his writing. But, before it became a joke, the bathroom scene with Ben was awkward. I didn’t really see the necessity of it, besides, perhaps, farce? I don’t know. The awkwardness of his writing wasn’t frequent, I may add, but when it happened, it was difficult to continue.

Conclusion

Despite any of my takeoffs, I felt that Openly Straight was certainly an epic book. if I could read this for the first time once more, I would do it all over again.

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