Rafe is a normal teenager from Boulder, Colorado. He plays soccer. He’s won skiing prizes. He likes to write.
And, oh yeah, he’s gay. He’s been out since 8th grade, and he isn’t teased, and he goes to other high schools and talks about tolerance and stuff. And while that’s important, all Rafe really wants is to just be a regular guy. Not that GAY guy. To have it be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time.
So when he transfers to an all-boys’ boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret — not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate break down. He meets a teacher who challenges him to write his story. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben . . . who doesn’t even know that love is possible.
This witty, smart, coming-out-again story will appeal to gay and straight kids alike as they watch Rafe navigate feeling different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself.
CURRENT GIVEAWAY —–> HERE
We were dancers and drummers and standers and jugglers, and there was nothing anyone needed to accept or tolerate. We celebrated.
This was such an amazing read. I know my star rating doesn’t reflect my feelings but this was truly astounding.
Rafe was such a lovely cute but oh-so frustrating character to follow. Rafe leaves his old like to go to this all boy prep school and tries to abandon his label as the “gay kid.” Labels suck, there’s a reason why I love the quote “labels are for jars and not for people.” I was 100 percent behind Rafe when it comes to this philosophy.
But… oh Rafe you simple fluffy cupcake. I love you, I truly do but you were so not smart about everything. It was so difficult to read through this book because when it comes to lying, especially in a possible relationship, nothing can end well. Despite this fact, I actually still enjoyed reading his voice and seeing how he justifies certain decisions in his mind.
What really did it for me was the side characters. I love Toby and his wild self (even though he sometimes say the wrong thing at the wrong time). I loved Rafe’s best friend Claire and despite some of the things she says in the beginning, she always has Rafe’s back. Rafe’s parents are honestly the best and probably one of the most supporting parents in YA history. They are a tad over the top but you can tell they truly love their son and would never ask or want him to change.
And of course, the love interest, Ben. I wanted to shake Ben and tell him so many times that “YOU AND RAFE ARE DESTINED TO BE TOGETHER” It’s so obvious it honestly hurts my little heart. Ben is that typical philosophical always got something wise to say type of guy but I surprisingly still loved him. Ben and Rafe’s relationship was so darn adorkable and was so well developed.
I LOVED how the book explored the difference between tolerance and acceptance. My views on these two words changed me completely and if you read this, you will change too. The book also dives into the topics of listening and self-confidence. Definitely made me think.
Despite these amazing elements of the story, I’m going to have to say some not so positive things about this book. One thing I hated was how we had to read about Rafe play sports with his jock buddies. It was just so descriptive and long and frankly sooo boring. I feel like that’s a personal preference but I felt like there could have been a better or more engaging way to describe these sporty scenes.
Also, even though I loved the relationship between Rafe and Ben, it’s ultimately built on lies. So many times, I wanted to scream at Rafe because so much drama could have been easily avoided if Rafe just spoke during certain situations. RAFE I LOVE YOU BUT PLEASE JUST STOP OVERTHINKING EVERYTHING. I was just so vexed about the situation.
I will tell you that this book is incredibly diverse. We have a gay Jewish main character, POC representation for mental illness and other LGBTQIA+ side characters. I heard the next book is even better on representation and I look forward to reading about more people. This book is also OWN VOICES so it’s even better!
Openly Straight was a great novel about being proud of who you are and this certainly made me proud to be who I am.
Reading this, I hope you too will love yourself.