Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Boys and Girls Together

Rate this book
Wild, tough, tender, courageous, and brutally honest. With stunning realism, the tangled passions, yearnings, frustrations, and dreams of a generation of young people spring to life. In the army, in the money-lined corridors of power, on the neon-lit streets of New York City, here are their twisted passions and lives... and an achievement by one of the most perceptive writers of our time.

696 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1964

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

William Goldman

71 books2,393 followers
Goldman grew up in a Jewish family in Highland Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and obtained a BA degree at Oberlin College in 1952 and an MA degree at Columbia University in 1956.His brother was the late James Goldman, author and playwright.

William Goldman had published five novels and had three plays produced on Broadway before he began to write screenplays. Several of his novels he later used as the foundation for his screenplays.

In the 1980s he wrote a series of memoirs looking at his professional life on Broadway and in Hollywood (in one of these he famously remarked that "Nobody knows anything"). He then returned to writing novels. He then adapted his novel The Princess Bride to the screen, which marked his re-entry into screenwriting.

Goldman won two Academy Awards: an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and an Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay for All the President's Men. He also won two Edgar Awards, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay: for Harper in 1967, and for Magic (adapted from his own 1976 novel) in 1979.

Goldman died in New York City on November 16, 2018, due to complications from colon cancer and pneumonia. He was eighty-seven years old.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
261 (25%)
4 stars
335 (33%)
3 stars
270 (26%)
2 stars
97 (9%)
1 star
42 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Nancy.
589 reviews14 followers
June 16, 2011
If I'd stopped reading after the chapters about the characters' childhoods, I would have given it five stars, I think. But it really went downhill for me. The children all grew up into fairly damaged and unlikeable adults. The most likeable was the one we knew the least. And the female characters were described primarily in terms of their sexual attractiveness and desire (or lack thereof). My favorite part was Rudy's childhood relationship with his grandfather, the only person in his life who wanted nothing from him. That was beautiful. It reminded me of the grandfather and grandson in The Princess Bride.
Profile Image for James Sorensen.
229 reviews2 followers
April 5, 2015
William Goldman, the author, is best known for the two screenplays he wrote, for which he was the winner of two Academy Awards: All The Presidents Men and The Princess Bride. But Goldman was also a writer of novels. He is best know for three books that were published after "Boys and Girls Together", those being "Magic", "Marathon Man" and "The Princess Bride".

"Boys and Girls Together" was written after four novels that were published earlier in his writing career. Goldman decided, with some urging from fiends, that he wanted to write a longer work in the vein of some his contemporary writers such as Harold Robbins and James Michener. When the book was published in 1964 the critics were unmerciful in their criticism and dislike of the book. William Goldman vowed at that time that he would never read another review of his written work. Goldman did, however, get the last laugh. "Boys and Girls Together" was one of the biggest Beach Novels and best sellers of the year.

I read Goldman's book for the first time over 40 years ago as a High school Junior. It was both fascinating and eye opening. The topics covered in the book were both controversial and taboo. It has been very insightful to reread this so many years later especially with the change in the moral climate of America over 40 years later.

As a reviewer of a book that is now over 50 years old I find it unfair to apply modern day standards and think the criticism is fair. One review I read called the book "homophobic" which,if the book had been written in 2014 with the current political climate could be considered to be true. However, having been written in 1964 and set in Post-World War II America is not at all true. Goldman's book was both controversial and progressive for it's time. I feel that when looking back at a book that has been written in the distant past a review must take into context the time and setting in which the book was written.

"Boys and Girls Together" revolves around the lives of five primary characters who were raised in four different areas of the Mid-West plus one already in New York. By the novel's end they will all converge on New York where their lives will merge together.

Aaron Firestone grows up in Princeton, New Jersey. He is detested by an older sister and all but ignored by his mother. His mom wants the sister to marry into wealth but she has chosen a loser by whom she becomes pregnant. When a plan is hatched to salvage a bad situation Aaron is the spoiler of Mom's plans. Aaron wants to be a writer

Walt Kirkaby, from St. Louis, is one of two son's of a wealthy merchant. Father P.T. Kirkaby is the founder of the largest discount chain in the St. Louis area and Walt hates all the wealth. At a young adult he heads to New York to "make it on his own", spurning his father's desire for Walt to help run the family business. Walt wants to direct plays.

Branch Scudder is a mama's boy. His father dies when he is still a child and he eventually grows up to help his mother run the family real estate business. But his mother's oppressive control eventually drives him to New York. Branch wants to be a big time Producer.

Jenny Devers is a big boned girl born in Wisconsin. She matures early and endures the leers of older men. At one point she is nearly raped. She ends up in New York as a young woman hoping to become an actress. She, instead, ends up in an adulteress relationship with her boss at the publishing house at which she works.

Rudy Miller is the most tragic of this bunch of pathetic characters. His parents, Esther and Sid, are to of the most self-centered and ego-centric characters in literature. It is their desire for wealth and self aggrandizement that chases Rudy away to New York where he simply wants to be left alone. There are too many people in his life that want too from him and it eventualy drives him into himself.

The main characters in this book, with the exception of Rudy,are not very likable. Their stories draw the reader into a world hope and desire and stagnation. "Boys and Girls Together" also deals with The issue of homosexuality. A subject that was not openly discussed during the time in which the story is set. Even in the mid 1960 this was an issue that just beginning to be spoken of in the public forum. Two of the major characters must deal with the issue of their sexuality in this book.

I've seen criticism that says this isn't a very up-lifting book. That there is no epiphany where the characters find out how to achieve success. That the end doesn't leave the reader all warm and fuzzy. I liken this criticism to that directed at "The Little Friend" by Donna Tartt. Many people disliked her book because it did not answer the question they expected it too. I have to ask the question": Must a book leave the reader completely satisfied in order to be good?

This is a well written book that gives us a look at an earlier time in the lives of young adults living in the late 40s. I enjoyed it 40+ years ago and I enjoyed again this time. "Boys and Girls Together" is a very well written character study into what many young people aspired too and the pretension with which they pursued these aspirations. I think too many readers today want to read books that need little in the ways of investment of time and thought. This book is not one of them. If the reader is looking for good literature and has the patience to invest in a well written story this book is highly worth the time.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Linda.
376 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2011
I picked this up from the bathroom bookshelf in the furnished apartment where I was staying, and I think there was a reason it was in there. It seems barely better than reading a shampoo bottle. Many of the reviewers mention that it was a meaningful book when they read it as a teenager, and I can understand how it might have been, considering its examination of adult interactions. As an adult, however, I found the book a rather boring and depressing look at relationships. The characters are also very dated; they talk like actors in 1940's films, with a false air about them. I struggle through this book trying to determine why anyone would could consider it a classic. I haven't read anything else by Goldman, but if his other novels are similar, I suggest he should have stuck with writing screenplays. If you enjoyed this book as a teen it may have some nostalgic value, but otherwise I recommend you skip this one.
Profile Image for David Jordan.
303 reviews20 followers
December 31, 2011
Before he became a Hollywood hotshot screenwriter("Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid," "All the President's Men," etc.) and took up genre fiction ("Marathon Man," etc.), Goldman had a substantial career as literary novelist, and this is is his biggest and perhaps best book. It knits together the life stories of several artistic types who eventually come together as the cast and crew of a Broadway play. Goldman spins a solid plot with an enteraining narrative voice, but his real strength is drop-dead funny dialogue -- which, I suppose, explains why he eventually opted for the big bucks of screenwriting.
42 reviews
November 14, 2020
I still have the thick weathered paperback from my youth. A rather strange book that I’ve also read probably three times. William Goldman’s writings are quite diverse, and this is one of his darker ones. I love it.
Profile Image for Robert.
201 reviews44 followers
June 2, 2013
I read this long before Goodreads. I thought it was great at the time. I believe I read it, when i was in college I the '60's, and it was about young people of roughly my generation finding their identity and their way in the world. I thought then and now that it had a lot more meaning and relevance for me than any of the things I was reading for my English Lit. classes. My "to read" list is getting despairingly long, but I'm really tempted to read this one again.
Profile Image for Laura.
39 reviews10 followers
August 12, 2010
This is one of my all-time favorite books.
Profile Image for Lizzie Jones.
11 reviews1 follower
March 31, 2011
LOVED this book literally to pieces! Re-read it so much it came apart in my hands one day!
114 reviews
August 5, 2016
Kept reading in the hope that somehow there would be a point to this book, but unless you count almost everyone living in their own personal hell for the rest of their lives, there wasn't. Since none of the characters were particularly likable, you don't feel too bad for them.
Profile Image for Serafina Sands.
262 reviews5 followers
September 29, 2012
i thought this was very daring when i read it in high school; alas, on finding my copy recently, it has not aged well
Profile Image for Paul Lyons.
376 reviews9 followers
August 4, 2018
Ugh. An innocent library loan of a book by a writer I admired turned into a seven-week odyssey of pain and misery trying to get through a 750-plus page mess of a novel that I did not even like. Maybe back in the mid-1960s “Boys and Girls Together: A Novel” was considered a fun read, but today the novel appears bloated, unsatisfying and just plain bad.

I knew I was in trouble when author William Goldman mentioned in his forward that when he began writing the book, he felt it “had to be long.” Length is not such a big deal, if you have a story to match it, yet Goldman had little to go on but a trite tale of five highly dysfunctional nitwits who never got over the damage their past (or parents) did to them, and grew up to be completely unlikable adult misfits trying to put on a bad play in New York City, and fail miserably. THAT’S a story?

William Goldman is indeed a great writer. I loved reading “Marathon Man,” as well as his screenwriting books. Yet this “Boys and Girls Together: A Novel” crap needs to be burned and buried and best forgotten. If that sounds harsh, it’s because I’m angry. I’m angry that I read such a depressing, rambling, and annoying novel that took me nearly two months to get through...and I almost didnt make it.

Too many days and nights I wanted to give up reading “Boys and Girls Together: A Novel.” The was book was absurdly easy to put down, and I dreaded going back to it. I thought THIS was going to be the book that broke me, and it almost did. I thought I would never finish it, never again find pleasure in reading. In fact, I loathed it so much that I could not let it beat me. I HAD to finish the book, out of anger, out of spite, out of an urge to just be done with it...and never have to think about it again.

So...I suffered through Aaron’s miserable tale of alienation, egotism , abandonment, self-loathing, self-punishment, sadistic tendencies and overall self-destructiveness. And what’s the payoff for Aaron at book’s end? He gets tortured to oblivion by a “master” of both ego and sadism, and in turn is left doomed to disappear and die. Lovely.

I also suffered through Jenny, whose detailed background the author dives into with explicit detail, only to then allow her to grow up to be a nagging mistress, and inadequate theater actress. Her redeeming qualities are...none, and the author tortures the reader with repetitive back and forth idiocy between Jenny and her married lover Charlie.

How bout Walt, the rich kid from St. Louis who has no guts to ask out the girl he likes, and instead suffers through a torturous girlfriend-then-wife, only to be followed by another torturous girlfriend. If Aaron was a true sadist, Walt on the other hand, is a pathetic masochist. Which begs the question, WHY would I want to read about him through seven hundred pages?!!

If that were not enough, the author added Scudder, a momma’s boy from Ohio with no spine who fancies himself a producer. The former-current-whatever lover-roommate of Aaron is weak to to the bone at the hands of his wealthy, all-controlling mother. And his redeeming qualities are...?

Last, and definitely least, there’s Rudy. Rudy’s Chicago parents are so horrible that reading about them made me ill. Rudy’s jerk-off narcissistic father date-rapes his mother, almost kills her with a dangerous cheap abortion attempt, then puts all of his hopes and dreams on Rudy to such an extent that he beats him til he becomes deaf as a child, beats him again when Rudy is falsely accused of assaulting a woman, the hounds him so harshly as an adult that it drives Rudy to suicide (or attempted suicide that turns to real suicide?). And Rudy’s mother? She’s a narcissist too. Worse, the author pretty much abandons Rudy in favor of his parents, allowing Rudy to be just a shy, enigmatic figure. Whatever.

...so, yeah. I got through it. I am pleased to rid of “Boys and Girls Together: A Novel” for good, but mad as hell that I fell into the trap of reading it. Lesson learned. Next time I want to read a book, even if its by an author I like, I will check the page-count, and be sure as I can be whether I want to invest time, energy and effort into the book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jessica.
596 reviews5 followers
July 10, 2020
I love William Goldman, but I've only ever read The Princess Bride and two of his screenwriting books (all of which I highly recommend). So when I saw this 700+ page tome at the used bookstore I grabbed it up.

Boys and Girls Together is one of Goldman's earlier books about five children (and some of their parents) from childhood to adulthood in the 50s and 60s. One way or another, all of them end up living in New York as their paths intersect. Each section is a short portrait of a portion in one of their lives, leading up to a conclusion that weaves each story together to a tragic conclusion. While I found most of the characters rather unlikeable, it was still a captivating read and I managed to blow through a giant book in little more than a week. Definitely not up to snuff with some of his later work, but still well written with an amusing voice. There were sections I really liked and others I didn't, and almost take it more as a short story collection than a full novel.
Profile Image for Kmystraveler.
58 reviews2 followers
September 16, 2017
In the beginning the book reminded me of early Irwin Shaw and James Jones: From Here to Eternity, but with some big flaws. Then, I thought it was going to be an updated, Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio but it became more like misfits in New York. I think it was probably a scandalous book for the time: homosexuality, sadism, cross-dressing, adultery, rape, rancorous marriages and the double standards for female sexuality are all included in this sad tale of boys and girls growing up to adulthood. New York is the beacon that draw these moths together to their death/ defeat. So sad! I still couldn't help but read the whole book. Goldman knows human nature and our propensity to stare at car wrecks, and this book has quite a pile-up.
June 30, 2017
There is a part in the latter half of the book in which a character says she hates Faulkner because all his characters sound the same. That's what I was thinking about this book all through it. Maybe I didn't "get it" but it was awful. The only likable character is Rudy's grandfather and we don't get to see him for long. It's hard to care much about what happens when the characters are all so masochistic.
Profile Image for Abby Rose.
15 reviews
August 3, 2022
Deeply disturbing. Poor representation of female characters- they only exist as sexual objects and objects of abuse. Deeply unlikable character, which is not usually a deal breaker for me, but there's just no relief from the disgust and loathing you feel for them. Overall, one of the most unpleasant reading experiences of my life. Yet you can't really put it down when you start- he's just too good a writer, plain and simple. So I recommend not starting. And I hope Goldman has sought therapy.
Profile Image for Louise.
16 reviews
March 4, 2018
I guess I’m done with William Goldman. After loving The Princess Bride I’ve gone downhill to “Boys and Girls Together”. Basically a collection of characters who turn out to be quite unlikeable. I was going to give it two stars because of the one and only likable character, but then I read the disgusting ending, thus the one star rating. For a very large book, this was a very large waste of time.
Profile Image for Suzanne Thackston.
Author 4 books18 followers
April 18, 2019
Hard to star this, actually, as I read it when I was about 11 or 12. Most of the adult stuff (and virtually all of the sex) went over my head. But I'm giving it a 4 because of the scene with the kid and the chocolate Easter bunny. Scarred me for life. Amazing fricking writing.
I really don't remember anything else about the book.
June 18, 2017
Disturbing yet gripping!

This was an interesting and timely story even though written some 50 years ago. The characters are unforgettable and some you want to see justice down, as in the case of at least 3 characters whose disturbing personalities cried out for therapy.
Profile Image for Joel Bailey.
Author 1 book
July 23, 2021
Goldman's characters are compelling and the storylines are interwoven nicely. The cover of the current edition is very unappealing and captures nothing of the novel's essence. Pick up an older edition.
376 reviews3 followers
November 20, 2018
Love his writing. Dialogue was exceptional. The book didn't hang together very well. Too many characters and too abrupt changes from character study to character study.
Profile Image for Alayna Josz.
70 reviews3 followers
March 22, 2020
it's been a good 12 years since i've read it, but i remember truly enjoying it. i'd love to read it again some day and i'm glad i hung on to it.
17 reviews
November 20, 2021
A whirlwind. Ultimately rewarding, but a bit difficult to penetrait early on, as the story jumps from character to character withouy anything tying them together.
13 reviews2 followers
March 18, 2017
I actually never finished this because I found it going nowhere and none of the characters were likeable. At first I was caught up by the stories of these people, but then realized if there is a connection to all of them, it must happen in the last 50 pages. I was not willing to wait.
Profile Image for Gabriele.
420 reviews12 followers
April 2, 2019
William Goldman's Boys and Girls Together tells the story of five different young people who all end up in the Big Apple, and whose lives come to intersect. This is a novel that focuses very intensely on its characters, and so we get not just the story of the principals, but their parents as well. Wannabe writer Aaron is the son of a New Jersey lawyer and his Southern bride, who is his father's delight until his untimely death of a heart attack, and winds up being the afterthought to his mother's favorite, his lovely but impetuous older sister. Aaron is cruel and proud, and when he's drafted into the military, crosses paths with Branch. Branch is the offspring of an Ohio mother who managed to trap his mostly-uninterested father into marriage and dominated him until he fled into the military and died while fighting overseas. Branch is mostly weak-spirited and lives under his mother's thumb until he flees to New York to try to become a producer. There's he's reunited with his college friend Walt, who directed plays and goes to the city to try his hand at it there rather than be trapped in the lucrative business his father built up and maintained both before and after Walt's mother died, having ignored her breast cancer until it was too late in an attempt to punish her husband for his infidelities.

These three all converge around a play, and their lead actors are Jenny and Rudy. Jenny is a tall, curvy girl from Wisconsin whose body seems to create most of her problems: she's nearly raped as a preteen by a stranger, and then is nearly raped again by her only friend in high school, who becomes her steady boyfriend. She follows him to New York and ends up working at a publishing firm, where she becomes embroiled in an affair with her boss. Rudy's story is the most focused on his parents of all: the two are both young, confident, and good-looking kids when they meet in Chicago and try to out-stubborn each other, which they continue into marriage and parenthood. Rudy is a sweet-natured and shy child who loses the only person in his life who really cares about him when his grandfather dies, and then becomes a pawn in his parents' struggles. He has no real ambition to act, but when Branch spots him, he's convinced.

I love a character-driven novel, so I expected to love this. Starting with the stories of the parents is an interesting device, and one I appreciated because it enriched the environment into which these personalities were planted and grew. The only problem: no one is actually interesting or compelling. Aaron is a raging asshole, Branch is pathetic, Walt's boring, Jenny's affair cycles through the same will-he-or-won't-he-leave-his-wife conflict so many times that I literally rolled my eyes at my Kindle, and Rudy's cardboard martyrism (apparently he literally can't say no to a direct request?) makes it hard to get invested in him. The only part of the book I really enjoyed reading was about the relationship between Rudy and his grandfather, who is the only person who views him as something more than an object. Goldman also wrote The Princess Bride, and it's easy to see the seeds of the grandpa-grandson relationship he depicted there in that portion of the book.

I usually try to think of an audience that might potentially like a book, even if I didn't. Every book isn't for everyone, of course. But it's hard to think of a particular group of people that might like this novel...it's definitely character-over-plot, but like I said, I didn't find the characters worth spending the time with (and this is a long book, over 700 pages, so there's lots of time). Apparently it had some notoriety when it came out because two of the main characters are gay, but neither of them is depicted particularly well, so I wouldn't say it's a good LGBT read either. Goldman is clearly a talented writer, based on his other work, and even in this one he has a knack for dialogue, but I can't in good faith recommend that anyone read this work.
Profile Image for Patricia Tennesen.
243 reviews1 follower
February 25, 2017
What a great read. The characters are rich and often sharp witted, troubled, disturbed, typical and not so typical. Together they remind us that we all have baggage and if permitted this can destroy us. The only not great part is that I read this on an electronic device and it kept going and going, then I looked up the pages and warning, it is seven-hundred some odd pages. Wow.
Profile Image for Alanna Smith.
693 reviews22 followers
January 6, 2012
This is a really hard book to review. Let me first begin by saying that it's got a lot of sex (some of it even homosexual sex, for that matter), so if that will bother you, just stay away. BUT, none of it is at all explicit. So if you're okay with implied sex-- definitely no worse than a PG-13 rating-- then this book won't bother you after all.

The other warning I think I need to give is that William Goldman doesn't really love to write happy endings. Those of you who are familiar with the book The Princess Bride (not the movie!) should have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about.

So keeping in mind those things, I actually really enjoyed this book! Goldman explains in the intro that his goal here was to write a Long Novel, and he does it splendidly. I LOVED all the detail he gave to each character, sometimes even giving you the entire story of how that person's parents met and fell in love(ish) and ended up being married. And I loved how everyone's stories eventually came together at the end. And mostly I love that I remembered Goldman's penchant for less-than-happy endings, so I wasn't terribly disappointed by how everything went down in the end. In fact, although it's kind of horrible, it's kind of funny and ends with some poetic justice, too.

I liked this book. I can't promise that you would. But I certainly did.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.