Author: Bill Konigsberg
Published May 28th, 2013 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Goodreads Summary: 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, 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 breaking 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 being different, fitting in, and what it means to be himself
Review and Teachers’ Guide to Navigation: This is such a great book! It is written well, very funny, smart, and has an important theme. What blew me away the most is how it was so humorous when dealing with a tough subject, but never lost its maturity and importance. Sometimes if you add humor to a novel, it becomes slap stick or more of a novelty, but Bill Konigsberg does it perfectly in Openly Straight.
As a teacher, what I immediately find myself connecting to was the journal entries from Rafe followed by Mr. Scarborough responses. Mr. Scarbourgh becomes quite an important person in Rafe’s life, and I feel that only through these journals, reflections, and responses that Rafe was able to make it at the new school. I think much of what Mr. Scarborough does with Rafe could be transferred directly into most classrooms.
Discussion Questions: Why did Rafe feel like he needed to hide who he was?; Have you ever felt like you couldn’t be who you really are?; How does Mr. Scarborough play a role in Rafe’s life?; How would you react if you were Ben?
We Flagged: “‘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.’”
Read This If You Loved: Paper Towns by John Green, The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider, Two Boys Kissing by David Leviathan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Leviathan, Life in Outer Space by Melissa Kiel