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David Levithan is a children's book editor in New York City. He lives in Hoboken, NJ. From the Hardcover edition.
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.
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.