Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

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One thing I can get behind is trying to get behind a label. When people see you as a geek/queer/jock/whatever, they see what those labels define, not the actual person beneath them. Once you fall into one, it’s branded on you until you do something drastic to change it.

How many of us wished we could just start over? Leave our old lives behind and be someone new? That’s what this book is about.

It’s also about the fact that you can’t. Making new friends doesn’t change who you are. Trying new activities doesn’t make you stop liking your old ones. You can always better yourself, but if you’re lying and repressing your true feelings then it’s not worth it.

Openly Straight was the kind of book that comes with a message, and it’s not afraid to show it. Not a ‘gay is ok’ message, but a ‘the only person who cares about your image is you’ message. How you see yourself is half of how others see you.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book, the story is interesting and engaging and fun to read, but for some reason I couldn’t quite connect with the characters, aside from Ben. They all felt so judgmental. It didn’t matter which label they were on, they all judged others based on theirs. Even at the end, Rafe (the MC) has his revelations and still (subconsciously?) criticizes his ex-friends for being who they are. It was a bit off-putting. Still, Rafe did accept responsibility for his actions, and that’s what matters.

Overall, it’s a great book for teens, and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with self-identity, queer or not.

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