On romance: Paul and Noah was charming and gooey, rich with the grand gestures that teens think are necessary, and maybe are necessary. It got pretty Hallmark Card there at the end but I can’t resist a good romantic ending. Sue me.
On character: Paul was sooo self-aware I teetered for a while on whether this was okay with me. But I bought in. Here’s why: The crux of the book is that here is this gay boy whose been accepted by his parents, by his teachers, by his friends, and who even has had boyfriends throughout his young life, and so has normal life problems like, Does Noah like me? What is love? Why is my best friend abandoning me for her boyfriend? And why can’t Tony’s parents accept him for who he is? If such a place exists, and I hope it does, then I can believe this character exists. I can imagine that gay teens need this book. Everyone needs this book–needs to know what kind of world should exist: one where a gay kid has pretty much the same problems as any other.
The minor characters could easily have slipped into caricatures and stereotypes: the new kid, the wounded ex, the tranny, the bitchy friend, the sheltered friend. But they didn’t. They were rounded characters who I cared about to the end.
On setting: Mostly the characters were the setting. We saw the homes of Paul and Noah and Tony. All of them were insights to the people who lived there and nothing more. We saw the school, a typical school physically: there were halls and lockers. But again the people were what made the community. And that was romantic for sure, every kind of gay having a place and a say. Levithan seemed to refuse to go anywhere darker than Paul’s ex cheating on him out of confusion. And the book worked for it.
It was an interesting world to join into and explore with Paul. I definitely want to read more of Levithan’s books.