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Openly Straight

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  4,968 ratings  ·  783 reviews
A funny, honest novel about being out, being proud . . . and being ready for something else.

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,
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 28th 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
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4.5 stars

I really, really, really loved this book (subtracted by) I’m really, really mad at this book. Leaves the total of I really loved this book.

Openly Straight is witty and clever and made me do the laugh-that-turns-into-a-chuckle-that-becomes-a-chortle-whiddled-down-to-a-smile-back-up-to-a-giggle-and-then-ends-with-a-sigh on more than one occasion! The writing is current and engaging and the story a new’ish take on the YA tale. The normal nerdy gay kid and the closeted jock were written in
Stacia (the 2010 club)
Jul 08, 2013 Stacia (the 2010 club) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stacia (the 2010 club) by: Buddy read with TBD girls

3.5 stars. I'm curious if Bill Konigsberg ever sat at a lunch table with John Green and David Levithan. Why, you ask? I can't really quite put my finger on the why or how but I felt like Konigsberg was channeling some of the offbeat vibe that the other two authors have been known to use in their own style of writing.

Before you groan and say that all three authors are male, or have tackled writing about similar subjects, just hear me out. Or read me out, since you can't actually hear me saying an

Dear friends,
Look at the list of literary awards this book has been honoured with:

Sid Fleischman Humor Award (2014)

Lambda Literary Award Nominee (2014)

Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (ALAN/NCTE) Nominee (2014)

American Library Association Rainbow List (2014)

Texas Library Association's Tayshas List (Top Ten Title) (2014)

Georgia Peach Award Nominee (2014)

Yalsa's Best Fiction for Young Adults (2014)

And then ask yourselves WHY FGS I HAVE NOT YET READ IT?! Though you don't have to do the same. It was ME
Bill Konigsberg's first novel, Out of the Pocket, was one of my earliest experiences with LGBT Young Adult -- and I loved it so very much. So I was so excited when I learned that Mr. Konisgberg was releasing his sophomore novel.

Seamus Rafael Goldberg (and no, none of his parents are Irish!) or Rafe is tired with being an openly gay kid in Boulder, Colorado. Rafe gets it easy, his hippie parents embrace him being gay and love him still. His mother is the president of PFLAG. His best friend, Clair
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

Being gay isn’t a choice, but being out definitely is. Raised by some seriously hippie-dippie parents, Rafe’s coming out was a breeze. We’re talking the school held a special celebration, his mother became the president of the local PFLAG and Rafe began traveling to different schools in the area to mentor other kids. It was wonderful – until Rafe became JUST the gay guy. No one except his best friend, Claire Olivia, was interested in j
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 a person and my opinion of him didn't improve in the last quarter of the book, eit
Ash Wednesday

There are books that will make you think, books that will make you laugh and a book that will change the way you listen to "Hollaback Girl".

But only one can give you all that… and moar.

I don't think I can write a review worthy of this book's wit and brilliance. I love how I never once stopped functioning as a thinking reader but it didn't cause me serious, debilitating pain in the process. No one got beaten up, no one nearly got raped, there was no crying in the rain while clutching some
4.5 stars

Is it every gay guy's duty to get out of the closet? Rafe doesn't want to deceive people, but he hates being "that one gay kid" back in his hometown. When he moves from Boulder, Colorado to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he keeps his homosexuality a secret and pretends to like girls - soon enough, he's part of the jock pack, and he really likes it. But being openly straight isn't as easy as Rafe thinks, and he feels the pressure when he develops feelings for his teammate B
Nick Pageant
BR with Mishy!

Rafe is an out and proud high school student who decides to go back into the closet because he's tired of being "the gay kid." He enrolls in an all-boys prep school and tries to live as himself without the gay label.

I really enjoyed this book. The MC is charming and witty. The supporting characters, particularly Rafe's parents, are very entertaining. The love story is poignant and felt just right for a YA book.

I deducted 1 star because the book does drag at times, but the payoff is
Rafe is roughly 16. He is gay. He is out. His family embraces who he is. They push him to embrace who he is. But Rafe is tired of being the gay kid. He is tired of labels. ​So he decides to go to boarding school and back in the closet. He wants to see how he fits in when people doesn't know he's gay.

I loved the social experiment perspective of this story. Although I don't know what it's like to be the gay kid, there are certainly moments in my life where I have, and still do, hide who I am to fi
A loveable story about self-acceptance and Tory (because Tory is the shit).

So basically it's about this kid realizing that not everyone is judging him based on him being gay, and even if they are, he shouldn't give a shit.

This kid pretended to be straight because he didn't want people to judge him.

It's also about the same kid who falling in love with this other cute kid, but cute kid 1 pretends he's not gay and cute kid 2 thinks they're both straight and learning about this gay stuff together.




(view spoiler)
4.0 Stars

Rafe was a normal teenager growing up in Boulder, Colorado. His coming out was ... atypical. His parents (I loved them!) were SUPER supportive and not only accepting of his revelation ... they celebrated it. (Loved the party hats, BTW.) Rafe became the poster child for being out and proud ... and he longed to be otherwise. His desire to be 'just one of the guys' spurs him to transfer to Natick, an all-boys' boarding school in New England, where he keeps his sexuality a secret. The probl
I thought this was a fantastic read. Someone recommended this to me on Twitter, so I pre-ordered the book off the blurb (I'm an easy sell, really), and I'm so glad I did. Basic premise: Rafe is openly gay. He's so openly gay that he goes to other schools to talk about being out, and his mom is president of the local PFLAG chapter. But Rafe is tired of being "the gay kid." So he moves across the country to go to an all-male boarding school, and while he doesn't go back in the closet, he doesn't t ...more
Kaje Harper
The main character in this book does something we all sometimes dream about - he reinvents himself. Moving across the country and starting boarding school gives Rafe the chance to try out who he would be, if he hadn't come out as gay to everyone he knows back in middle school. He wants to see what life is like in eleventh grade if the guys around him don't look at him and see "the gay kid". He doesn't consider it being in the closet, exactly, since he isn't planning to lie. Except perhaps by mis ...more
I absolutely love this book. That being said, I hate it so much. I literally started crying towards the end. I was sort of in a reading slump and then I picked this up and it all just disappeared. I got so involved in the book that I hardly did anything else today. This is the type of book I needed. Something uplifting.

Rafe was such a lovable character. It was interesting following the life of a gay boy who didn't want to be seen as just "the gay guy". Truth be told I never really thought about
I'm masochistic. I knew from the start that this would make me suffer catastrophic feelings. Thank you very much, Self. But still, I went on...

So, Mom, God, don't worry I'm just sniffing here. No, really. I'm not crying or anything. I don't have any problem. No, really. No way. I just have hay fever or something...

*cries* (view spoiler)

At first, I was really proud of myself. I was through 100 pages and I was not hurt. I actually
Rick Fisher
I loved the whole idea of this book. And, everything within the pages. This is one of those novels that make you stop and think about your life and the labels we wear daily.
How many of us haven't wanted an opportunity to reimagine ourselves? To start over as someone just a little different? And, no matter how hard you may try, only the real person you are can survive.
The characters in this novel are amazing. Rafe, his parents and all his friends, in both Boulder and Natwick. The dialogue is
Ulysses Dietz
Books are very much a matter of taste. YA books are a sub-set of that, and I happen to love them, generally.

But this was a special book for me, both as a gay man who came out in the 1970s and as the father (with another man) of two teenagers. (Straight ones, just for the record.) Having read Konigsberg's "Out of the Pocket," which I liked a lot (did not love, to be clear), I took his recommendation to look into the next book. Very glad I did.

From the very beginning, the book's core premise was d
I loved Bill Konigsberg's Out of the Pocket, so when I heard he'd written a new book, I tracked him down last November at NCTE and got myself a copy (signed!).

Interesting premise: The protagonist, Rafe, has been out since middle school. His parents are accepting, his friends are accepting, he's comfortable in his skin. It's all good. Except it's not. Rafe's tired of being "the gay kid" because that seems to be the only thing he's allowed to be. Being gay defines him. So, he transfers to a priva

I enjoyed the premise of this book. Rafe is sick of being "the gay boy" in his town. His parents are all about accepting and celebrating their gay son. He basically is the go-to gay kid in school and he will do anything to break this label. He doesn't want people to look at him and only see that he's gay. As a result, Rafe transfers to an all-boys school and hides the fact that he's gay.

I liked Rafe. He was a kid struggling to fit in. I understand where he was coming from. High school can be a c
Loved the book which for me is mainly Rafe finding out who he is and being comfortable in his own skin. Much introspection and reflection. Reminded me of how I felt before coming out. How I longed to be seen for me and not the instant supposition from the jock boys that I was a fag. There are some great moments with his crazy family from Boulder, CO-- the most "progressive" of American towns. Some heartbreaking moments between Rafe and Ben. As much as I wanted the book to continue to a HEA, I am ...more
David James
Truth and honesty. Love and loss. Open and hidden. I'm not sure Rafe knows what they are or how to define them. I'm not sure I do. And I'm sure that's the point. This book was like coming home. It really was. And I honestly screamed, "They better get together in the end, Bill Konigsberg, or I will hunt you down!" when I was about 200 pages in. No, I was not in public. Yes, I blushed.

EDIT: This book is probably more important than even it knows it should be. Read it.
A satisfying book about finding yourself...wherever you are. I did feel it read a lot like a John Green book (not a bad thing), and I would have enjoyed a little more...description. Not looking for porn, just wanted clarity on some things that were alluded to. I'm a naughty old lady, what can I say? Also? The ending?! DAMN the hanging ending! That said, write on Bill Konigsberg, and I'll read more.
Wart Hill

Might write a full review after some thinking, but for right now, I think that about sums it up.
Jennifer Lavoie
So this book did not end the way I wanted it to. But I'm okay with that, because if it had, the book would not have been realistic and that is what makes the book such a joy. Even though I wanted a very specific, happy, perfect ending, life is not that way, especially when the person involved tells lies to friends that hurt them. Not everyone will forgive you, and even if they do, it will take time.

Still, I loved the book. The characters were fantastic, especially Ben and the main character, Ra
I enjoyed the writing of the book very much, however I was not a particular fan of the ending, hence three stars in what would have otherwise been a four or five star book.

In particular, I wasn't a large fan of the less than hopeful send off between Ben and Rafe, as I felt that it really didn't mesh thematically with the rest of the novel. It also felt incredibly rushed, and I wish more time had been dedicated to exploring their relationship after their falling out.

The other issue I had was th
Only a couple times in my life have I read a book that made me reexamine who I am as a person, how I relate to other people, and why I behave the way I do. This book did just that. What a wonderful book to have available to adolescents who are struggling with labels, with coming out, and with trying to figure out how they fit in to the grand scheme of things.

Additionally, Konigsberg has some of the most amazing, realistic dialogue I have ever read. Ever. I could hear the characters, could sense
Madison Parker

Full review at

I found it easy to relate to Rafe. Who hasn't thought about getting away from it all and making a fresh start somewhere new? Rafe knows he's fortunate to have family and friends who accept him for who he is. He knows he's lucky to live in a community where he can be openly gay without fear of harassment. But he's also feeling smothered by the label, as if it's the only thing people see when they look at him. He wants his sexuality to be a non-issue, so he d
Natalie Monroe
Nov 13, 2014 Natalie Monroe marked it as to-read
After the brilliance of Suicide Notes, I want to read more LGBT fiction.
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Bill Konigsberg was born in 1970 in New York City. Expectations were high from birth - at least in terms of athletics. His parents figured he'd be a great soccer player, based on his spirited kicking from inside the womb. As it turned out, the highlight of his soccer career was at Camp Greylock in 1978, when he was chosen for the Camp's "D" team. There were only four levels. Bill played alongside ...more
More about Bill Konigsberg...
Out of the Pocket The Porcupine of Truth

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“It’s hard to be different,” Scarborough said. “And perhaps the best answer is not to tolerate differences, not even to accept them. But to celebrate them. Maybe then those who are different would feel more loved, and less, well, tolerated.” 49 likes
“The world needs people who are more comfortable standing still. We keep the earth on it axis when everybody else is bouncing around.” 27 likes
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