Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg

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5stars

Even in that strange, disorienting place between sleeping and waking, my brain recognized the irony of hearing my name whispered from a closet.

Title: Honestly Ben
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Good things about this book: Ben is just one of us and you will relate to him and his problems!
Bad things about this book: I would have loved an epilogue.
Do I recommend it? Yes, I’m positive you will like the ending of this duology.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Reviewing this book is going to be hard, maybe impossible. Everything I want to say it’s a spoiler not only of the first book but also of this one and without talking about what I want, I can’t express what I liked about this book. See? Impossible.

I liked very much Openly Straight. I loved Rafe as a main character, I loved his voice, his flaws and how he was with Ben, Toby and Alby, We all know what happened in Openly Straight and how sad I was when it ended the way it ended so I was hoping for a happy ending in this companion/sequel. Then I read the summary and was scared about what was going to happen.

Having Ben as the main character was different. I didn’t know what to expect and at first I was a little perplexed. Ben has issues: with his dad, with school, with his baseball teammates and obviously with Rafe after what happened. He was freaking out and he was overwhelmed with so many things that he wasn’t seeing what was right in front of him. He liked Rafe, why the hell was he denying it?

Weird. I was just plain weird, and it was a good thing no one had access to my innermost thoughts.

Of course I know why he was pretending not to feel anything but I still got annoyed. I wanted him to want more for himself, not what others wanted him to want. I can’t explain it well. He was trying to make everyone happy but himself. He was stressed, confused, angry, sad. It wasn’t ok. I wanted to help him, tell him it was going to be ok, that he needed to really talk to someone because he was the only one who could get himself out of all those situations. He needed to get a grip of his life and decide to be happy for himself, not for others.

It’s a very nice book; it is deep. It has important themes, very important I must say, that will get you thinking. It got me thinking about privilege, homophobia, labels and the pressure put on such young people. And so much more!

Okay, you see, most people in the world take paths that are expected. They go to school, get a job, get married, have kids. Then there are the rest of us. We’re on left-handed paths. It’s not what’s expected. The world would like it better if we didn’t take these paths, because the world doesn’t know what to do with people who buck the system, or explore things that are new.

I won’t say more about what I read. The summary says half of it and the other half you need to find out reading the book. If you’re curious about Ben and if you want to know if Rafe and him can be friends again, or maybe more than that, then you need to give it a chance.

I am happy about how it ended but of course I wanted more. I think it lacked an epilogue. An epilogue would’ve been nice but we can’t have it all, can we?

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Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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“Straight people have it so much easier. They don’t understand. They can’t. There’s no such thing as openly straight.”

Title: Openly Straight
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Why you should read this book: Because this is an important book about labels and how they affect our lives every single day.

Rafe is a writer, he likes sports and is a good son and friend. He is also gay and his coming out put this huge label on him and all the other things he were seemed to disappear. As much as he loved being around people who love him, he wants to have a change to being just Rafe, just a boy with interests and willing to make new friends. He decided to transfer to an all-boys school far from his home in Colorado and being openly straight. He doesn’t want to go back in the closet, he just doesn’t want people to define who he is only based on his sexual preferences. He knows that by not saying he is gay he will be able to make friends and do what he loves without interferences. He didn’t know he was going to fall in love with his new straight best friend, Ben. That little lie is going to bring more damage that any other things that had happened in Rafe’s life so far.

“He was staring into my eyes, and I felt that shivery thing that happens when you look in someone’s eyes and you get goose bumps because you’re gaining access.”

First of all, loved the cover and the title! Before reading the summary I wanted to have it because I loved how it looked so much!
This book is beautiful, it looks simple but it has so many deep things in it. Rafe is openly gay, his family supports him, his best friend, too. Everyone seems ok with it but he became the “gay kid”, he wasn’t Rafe anymore. He wanted to start over but of course at first it was easy but then the lies started to grow and everything looked wrong.
Rafe didn’t know he was going to fall in love with his new best friend, Ben, a straight jock with a great body and personality. (Crying Ben made my heart hurt a lot).

“You can be anything you want, but when you go against who you are inside, it doesn’t feel good.”

Rafe had reasonable reasons to hide this huge part of himself but he had to know that he couldn’t lie for two whole years. It was an impossible task. Of course boys will ask him about girls, girlfriends, experiences, past etc. He only wanted to omit one truth but by doing that all those questions had lies for answers. How are you suppose to be honest with your new friends if you couldn’t tell them when you were hurting because you had feelings for someone? Friends should support you, help you with heartbreaks but if they don’t know what you feel and who do you have those feelings for, then it’s not real friendship.

“Then I wondered if that was what this was, like a Brokeback Mountain thing. We’d sleep in the same bed for a year, and finally we’d do it, but we’d never talk about it, ever, and then Ben would get married and I’d be killed in Texas.
Probably not, but you can never be too careful with these things.”

I just knew things with Ben weren’t going to go smoothly, I was ready to have my heart broken. Ben has all the rights to be angry, he is confused, he is starting to understand how he feels about everything that is happening in his life. He had two important people in his life, one dead and one that couldn’t help him now because he needs to help himself first. I wanted the ending to be a little different, I wanted to be given more details, more of everything. We need to wait for the second book, I guess.

“The world needs people who are more comfortable standing still. We keep the earth on it axis when everybody else is bouncing around.”

Rafe’s parents are weird but great. I think that is a nice combination. They love their son not matter what he does, they support him. When he came out they were happy, his mom listened to everything he had experienced with boys and if he was hurting about something, she was always there. They were there also when he told them about the reason why he went to the all-boys school. They weren’t happy but if that was what he needed to do then they were ok with it. How cool are they?

Can we talk a little bit about Albie and Toby??? We all need them in our lives, random, different and sincere! Albie and his knowledge about survival. Toby and his speeches that made me go “eh?” in a good way. How much they made me laugh!

Special mention to Rafe’s teacher, very important to have someone like him around to help us being honest with ourselves!

“It’s hard to be different,” Scarborough said. “And perhaps the best answer is not to tolerate differences, not even to accept them. But to celebrate them. Maybe then those who are different would feel more loved, and less, well, tolerated.”

Do I recommend it? Yes, it will make you a little bit mad but then again it will you feel warm inside.
Rate: 5/5

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