Honestly Ben - Bill Konigsberg

Ben Carver is back to normal. He's working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He's even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except . . .

There's Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There's his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there's Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! I love that this book deals with sexuality in a fluid state, whether you see Ben as bisexual, gay, straight, or something else, how he sees himself is in love with the person he is in love with! He loves Rafe. He loves Hannah. He doesn't want to be categorized as gay. He prefers straight, but still doesn't love that label either. It's a really great concept coming from the companion novel, Openly Straight

There's a lot to love here. Konigsberg writes complex characters and swift narratives, but he does not shy away from complicated plots or concepts. In his Openly Straight, Konigsberg demonstrates dexterity in exploring sexual fluidity, neither fully accepting nor fully doing away with straight/gay dichotomies. Rafe is the main character in that novel, but in this case, Ben is the protagonist, struggling with his feelings for Rafe and his feelings for Hannah. Not to mention the fact that he can't seem to please his father or keep his promises to some of his friends. There's a lot going on, but yet it doesn't feel at all overwhelming.

I've loved Konigsberg's work since I read Out of Pocket. I hope he continues writing for years to come. After his previous award winning novels, it's hard to see any sort of end it sight for such a talented writer of teen fiction!


(NOTE: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy - Out March 28, 2017)


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