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I'm a hopeful cynic.

Openly Straight

Openly Straight - Bill Konigsberg

In Openly Straight, Mr Konigsberg explores, among other things, labeling and stereotyping, identity and self-perception, and the triptych 'tolerance-acceptance-celebration' when it comes to difference/diversity.


The book is well-written, in a fresh and funny and a largely non-sententious way.The thing is, though, I didn't like Rafe, the main character. I enjoyed certain parts of him, but I didn't really like him as person and my opinion of him didn't improve in the last quarter of the book, either. I understand that to a certain degree, we all learn to navigate life by trial and error, and that he came out of the whole experience a better person, but that didn't help him come across as less of an impostor. Also, for me, if you took Rafe and his (extended) family aside, almost everything else in the story felt stereotypical. The jocks posse (which, of course, included at least one deeply closeted homosexual and at least one homophobic member,) the geeky roommate, the one openly gay student, the progressive English professor (who reminded me of Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society,) the unsophisticated sports coach, the love interest who couldn't take the step forward and come out as gay, (or bi,) because of all the things that held him back (mostly his family. Naturally.)


The book is about Rafe, so I understand why it had to end the way it did. Though I would have enjoyed it more had it been a dual POV story. That way, I could have spent some time in Ben's head, too, seen how he struggled with his own issues of identity and self-perception.