by Angela Meyer
fifteen years David Levithan has celebrated Valentine's Day by writing
a story about love. How
They Met and Other Stories contains final versions of
these expressions. Levithan treats love with awe and respect. The
stories are mostly from a teen point of view, of first love, and first
heartbreak. Even a story about an elderly couple at the breakfast table
has them transported back to that fateful first dance.
are obstacles in the way of love, such as a closed-minded parent. In The Alumni Interview,
Ian has his college interview with his boyfriendís Dad. Of course, the
"sturdy" father has no idea about the relationship. Thom peeks through
the keyhole and hears his own father comparing the young man before him
to his son who has "no focus". By the end, both young men have had
enough and Thom bursts in the room to confront his father. In this
particular story, the reaction is difficult and realistic. The reader
feels triumphant for the couple who know things are not clear-cut or
black and white.
problem with the book, at times, is that there are stereotypical
characters. There is only one redeeming parent throughout (the mother
in What a Song Can Do).
Mostly the parent figures look alike. Mostly the teen characters have
no problem being "out" at school but closed-up at home. Perhaps this
reflects some contemporary realism, but it would have been nice to see
more of a range of situations. There are different points of view in
regards to love (eg. boy meets girl/boy meets boy/girl meets girl) but
there isnít a lot of originality in the surrounding situations. Teens
would perhaps relate to the school environment, including prom stories,
and being part of alternative groups or subcultures, but there is often
no real challenge to the stories. They are sweet, reflective, humorous,
but they come and go. Mostly they skim the surface and suggest
Some of the
characters are, however, quite memorable. The sassy and nervy young gay
male protagonist in
Starbucks Boy is easy to relate to as he develops a crush
and over-analyses a look, a brush of the hand, a phrase. The Number of People Who Meet on
Airplanes is charming, with the protagonists finding out
much later that their encounter was more than luck. Skipping the Prom
is a relatable snapshot too, of that time "in-between" when you are
aware decisions are going to have to be made, but you just hold onto
that moment together when you are so connected.
is much to be enjoyed. It is certainly an easy read, and Levithan does
not write down to his teen readers. There are plenty of great
descriptions of desire, passion and the physical manifestations of
love. Perhaps next time we may be treated to some more complex
perspectives, and endings that arenít quite so similar to one another
so that the reader is not too intruded upon by the authorís
is a Y Gen Australian writer and reviewer. She has been published in
books, magazines, journals and online. She is the editorial assistant
at Bookseller & Publisher magazine in Melbourne. She is working
a novel set in 1970, and short fiction based on themes of consumerism.
Levithan is the author of novels Boy Meets Boy, Are We There Yet?
and The Realm of
Possibility. He has also co-written novels, is the editor
of the PUSH imprint at Scholastic and his short fiction has also been
included in publications and collections. Boy Meets Boy has won
numerous Young Adult literature awards.
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