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Wide Awake

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  3,836 ratings  ·  345 reviews
I can't believe there's going to be a gay Jewish president.

As my mother said this, she looked at my father, who was still staring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me? I sat there and beamed.

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan's life: The candidate he's been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan's boyfriend, Jimmy, is wi
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published September 12th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,836 ratings  ·  345 reviews

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Vee S
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer-ya
Actual rating: 4.5 Stars

This book was so fantastic. How do I describe it? Basically, imagine if Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won the nominations for their parties, only Bernie was gay and instead of being mostly focused on Wall Street &c he was more idealistic and about all of us coming together as "great community." Then imagine he's elected president, but the opponent refuses to concede the election and instead tries a mass voter disenfranchisement tactic to try and make himself the vi
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
I want you to believe me when I say that David Levithan really is one of the best writers in YA. I won't pretend he's consistent, but when he's at his best (Every Day, Will Grayson Will Grayson, Love is the Higher Law), he creates complex characters, with strong voices, and unique premises that only could've come from him. He's also one of the best writers of LGBT fiction I can think of, except maybe Malinda Lo. He's one of the few authors who really explores the different people that identify a ...more
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
David Levithan's books make me so happy young people have access to his writing - perhaps making their personal journeys a bit less isolating and a lot more promising. Wide Awake in particular becomes a must-read YA novel in this insane election year. What a sense of hope Levithan gives all of us for a near-future full of possibility.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Christian C. for

Decades from today, the results of the election are out, and for the first time in the history of the United States, a gay, Jewish president, Abraham Stein, has been elected. After the Greater Depression, the War to End All Wars, the Reign of Fear, and the Jesus Revolution, the moment has arrived. Seventeen-year-old Duncan, who has spent the last few months working with his boyfriend, Jimmy, as a volunteer at the campaign headquarters, can finally sta
Jul 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-read, ya-lgbt
This is a most interesting YA read.

The U.S. has an elected a gay, Jewish president -- or so it seems until Kansas decides maybe the count is off. The group of 16-yr old teens who worked so hard on the campaign are devastated, just as the "Decents" who opposed the candidate are. The tag line of the book is "What are you willing to do for what you believe in?"

Levithan is an excellent writer and may have missed his calling when he decided not to become a political speechwriter (the speeches by the
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. If 1984 shows us how bad the world can get, this book shows us how good things can get, gives hope that ultimately we humans, though we do bad things, will pull together for the good of everyone.
Sean Kennedy
The two books I have read from David Levithan so far have required quite a bit of suspension of disbelief - in "Boy Meets Boy" it was a bit easier to get over the initial resistance to it, but "Wide Awake" suffers because of it. It's a shame, because it could have been a truly great and inspiring YA novel. Levithan's world-building always seems to push a bit too far - my first stumbling block was the notion that in the future we no longer shop for stuff, but just go to look at them and then dona ...more
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not too sure
Can it be historical fiction if it's set in a fictional future? Because this book is all about making the future. When a gay Jewish man becomes president. You know, when that happens. Someday. Maybe. Possibly...

This was not my favorite Levithan and I've been trying to work out why this book didn't sear into my soul like his other books. (Alright, maybe not my soul, but definitely into my beneath the surface emotions. Definitely there.)

I think it's because this book felt like a proje
Victoria Scott
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was published in 2006, but all I could think was how easily it could have happened in 2016. It fit everything happening with Trump so perfectly, and I was amazed to find out it wasn't based on all of that. I loved seeing how focused and passionate this group of people was on what was happening in their government, even though they weren't old enough to vote. The way he described people like the teacher, or those boys who they got into a fight with, was just so real. Don't we all know p ...more
Cara M
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
David Levithan was recommended to me as an author who could write about homosexuality front and center and give it a happy ending. But this book was not really what I was looking for. It was an interesting journal of a political movement, but honestly, it was really a one note samba. It definitely wanted to give a positive message, but the nuance it had in the beginning was swept away as Duncan joined the protest.
In the end, the only thing i found convincing about the book was the relationships.
Nov 07, 2008 added it
Shelves: ya_lit, 2009
There are three things about David Levithan's books that I adore: the tenderness with which the protagonist views the world, the writing that has so much energy it seems to pop off the page, and finally, the creation of a world that is so idealistic and believable that I want to pack my bags and move to it. It's the last one that I had a problem with in this book.

Wide Awake is set sometime in the distant future where teens hang out at non-shopping malls and give their money to charity rather tha
Oct 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Umm -- slow day at work, so I read my first Levithan. I know, I'm embarrassed on two fronts.

Yes, it's super-idealistic, but why not? Isn't that what this country is all about? It was founded in idealism and I just keep wondering, where is our outrage? I sleepwalked through the Bush presidency. I could not believe that I lived in a country where he was elected! Eight years and I didn't do anything, not really, to express my dismay. Well, I love that David Levithan imagines a better world and desc
Apr 10, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
A huge disappointment after Boy Meets Boy. This novel was way too preachy, I felt like Levithan hammered me over the head with his message at every point. Where Boy Meets Boy was beautiful, funny and sad, Wide Awake was just... boring. I felt no sort of relationship with the characters at all, there was never any doubt as to how it all would turn out, and the beautiful phrases that had made Boy Meets Boy such a joy to read was sorely lacking from this novel.
Jun 24, 2007 rated it did not like it
This one suffered from some pretty heavy-handed moralizing about politics in the US, plus there were too many characters to even begin to keep straight (no pun intended.) A good "what if" concept gone wrong.
Nov 11, 2014 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I'm not in the mood to continue reading this right now and I hate having it as "currently-reading" on my main page because there's too many books and I get stressed, so I'm shelving as "abandoned" for now.
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
The fact that this book was published in 2006 and the ideas are still relevant in 2018, perhaps even more than they were then, made me emotional more than once. It's not a perfect book, sometimes unnecessarily poetic, but it's really good.
Steven Bell
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steven by: Pica
This was neat. I found myself mostly invested in the idea of this alternate future. I say alternate because events in the last decade are different than what David Levithan originally wrote (but on the other hand, some other things are amusingly in sync or a bit predictive of the mood surrounding Barack Obama's election.)

I was less interested in the romance this go around but that was all fine. I appreciate the honesty about how fleeting teenage relationships can be and the honesty that teenage
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jared Criswell
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
David Levithan's future is the first one I've read I would actually want to live in! I treasure his optimism. An America that again merits the name of democracy--equal justice for all--would be worth fighting to achieve. Instead we have our political reality in all its intolerance and ugliness. A book about the President stealing the election via shenanigans with the electoral college, while losing the popular vote, is all too familiar.

But politics is just one aspect of the story--there's also
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, glbt, fantasy, 2013-reads
Reading the synopsis of Wide Awake, I found it difficult to see how David Levithan could pack religion, politics and sexuality into a book that's just over 200 pages long and make it meaningful. It's a minefield of hot topics that could have been awkward, preachy or uncomfortably controversial.

But in true David Levithan style, he takes a story and completely ensnared me in the life of Duncan, his boyfriend Jimmy, his friends and a cast of characters caught up in the election of the first gay Jew
Princess De Leon
Making this quick and short because it's been four days since I've read the book and a crossover between Rise of the Guardians and How to Tame your Dragons is waiting for me in another tab. I will say sorry in advance for such a halfhearted review

A Gay Jewish President? Well, I'm not as surprised after reading Boy Meets Boy. It's idealistic. Fantastical. Impractical. And Fanciful. But nevertheless, pretty good once you wrap your mind around the fact that it's fiction and decide to

Gotta admit it
Honestly, not really impressed by this novel. As far as the Goodreads rating system goes, I should probably give it 2 stars, but I feel that doesn't really show how I feel about it, so 3 it is. Basically, this is a novel about history in the making - in the future. It's a little confusing, I suppose, but not so much when you read it.

The problem I have here is that Levithan's characters are so one dimensional they're practically stereotypes. Not quite, but almost. In a young adult novel, is it t
Ashley Farley
May 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For such a short read this book contains an alarming amount of brilliant ideas and predictions for our countries not too distance future. I would love to see the day were a Jewish gay president is elected into office. It's amazing that this book was originally published in 2006 and how it holds even more true today. Levithan's insight is incredibly although I feel that his optimism is a bit too strong. As much as I would love nothing more than to see our society progress to a "greater community" ...more
Sep 05, 2007 rated it did not like it
What happens to good book ideas when they go bad? If you are a respected author/editor like David Levithan, they get published anyway. I really wanted to like this book. I'm from Kansas and I'm reasonably liberal, so a book based on the premise that in the future a Gay man or a Jewish man (or a combo) can run on a ticket with a Black/Latina/Lesbian for the President of the US is something that I thought I would enjoy. Unfortunately, Levithan got carried away with himself and his cleverness. Ther ...more
I love David Levithan's futuristic fantasy: some decades from now, a gay Jewish man is elected as president. Predictably, the political forces against him try to shenanigate and gerrymander to steal the election back. Can a Gandhi-inspired crowd hold back such political evil? Of course Levithan is speaking to present-day America, and to all people everywhere hoping for a more equal, inclusive and fair life for everyone. Should we be realistic, idealistic or fatalistic? Through it all, different ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of David Levithan. His characters feel like old friends from the very beginning of his books. Duncan and Jimmy are no exception - their relationship isn't perfect, but it is beautiful and lyrical and touching.

The story, centering around a contested election involving the first gay Jewish president, definitely made me think and wonder about the future. Could this be possible someday? If this could be possible, what else about our world could change? I enjoy finding books that ask big q
Jan 31, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2009, ya, waste
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rissa Flores
Dec 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, with-review
3.75 stars.

Wide Awake is a novel about America's first gay Jewish President and how Jimmy and Duncan, along with a thousand others, became a part of a huge historical event.

Quick and easy to read. I liked the plot-- simple but unique and interesting enough, for me. I also liked the mix of politics and all those political speeches from different characters in the novel. One minor character in the novel also stood out for me--- namely, Sue. He had a very minor part in the novel but he was defini
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, politics
I wanted to like this book, but I think I might be just a little too cynical to see this future as "not too distant." The picture that Levithan painted was just way too rosy - so rosy that I didn't for second feel any real tension in the book. Everything in this future is just so nice that of course our protagonist is going to get everything that he wants eventually.

And the song references were way too numerous and trite. Seriously, triplets named Glen, Gary and Ross? Couldn't they have at least
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, ya, read-in-2011
While this book is short, it carries a deep message about respect, equality, love, and personal growth. I was fascinated by the world David Levithan has created within these pages. Of course, the tragic events that occurred to get society to such a wonderful place were horrible – but the happy ending was happening as his story began. To see love and equality ranking so high in government and people’s every day lives was inspiring.

The romance told the story of first love beautifully. The angst ov
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

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“I am proud that I defy your categories. I am proud that I don't fit easily into any box. I am proud of all the things I am and all the things i can be. Question yourself every time you think you only see one thing in me.” 100 likes
“It was the most amazing feeling in the world. to know that something right happened, and to know that it had happened not through luck or command but simply because it was right.” 72 likes
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