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  • Wide Awake
  • Written by David Levithan
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375834677
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  • Wide Awake
  • Written by David Levithan
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375891465
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Wide Awake

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Written by David LevithanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Levithan

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List Price: $8.99

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On Sale: September 09, 2008
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-375-89146-5
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

In the not-too-impossible-to-imagine future, a gay Jewish man has been elected president of the United States. Until the governor of one state decides that some election results in his state are invalid, awarding crucial votes to the other candidate, and his fellow party member. Thus is the inspiration for couple Jimmy and Duncan to lend their support to their candidate by deciding to take part in the rallies and protests. Along the way comes an exploration of their relationship, their politics, and their country, and sometimes, as they learn, it's more about the journey than it is about reaching the destination.

Only David Levithan could so masterfully and creatively weave together a plot that's both parts political action and reaction, as well as a touching and insightfully-drawn teen love story.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

“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 stillstaring at the screen. They were shocked, barely comprehending.

Me?

I sat there and beamed.

I think it was the Jesus Freaks who were the happiest the next day at school. Most of the morning papers were saying that Stein’s victory wouldn’t have been possible without the Jesus Revolution in the church, and I don’t think Mandy or Janna or any of the other members of The God Squad would’ve argued. Mandy was wearing her JESUS IS LOVET-shirt, while Janna had a LOVETHYNEIGHBOR button on her bag, right above the STEIN FOR PRESIDENT sticker. When they saw me walk through the door, they cheered and ran over, bouncing me into a jubilant hug. I wasn’t the only gay Jew they knew, but I was the one they knew best, and we all had been volunteers on the Stein/Martinez campaign together. After the hugging was done, we stood there for a moment and looked at one another with utter astonishment. We’d done it. Even though we wouldn’t be able to vote for another two years, we’d helped to make this a reality. It was the most amazing feeling in the world, to know that something right had happened, and to know that it had happened not through luck or command but simply because it was right.

Some of our fellow students walked by us and smiled. Others scoffed or scowled–there were plenty of people in our school who would’ve been happy to shove our celebration into a locker and keep it there for four years.

“It was only by one state,” one of them grunted. “Only a thousand votes in Kansas.”

“Yeah, but who also got the popular vote?” Mandy challenged.

The guy just spat on the ground and moved on.

“Did he really just spit?” Janna asked. “Ew.”

I was looking everywhere for Jimmy. As soon as the results had been announced, I’d gone to my room to call him.

“Can you believe it?” I’d asked.

“I am so so so happy,” he’d answered.

And I was so so so happy, too. Not only because of the election but because I had Jimmy to share it with. I had two things to believe in now, and in a way they felt related. The future–that was it. I believed in the future, and in our future.

“I love you,” he’d said at the end of the call, his voice bleary from the hour but sweetened by the news.

“I love you, too,” I’d replied. “Good night.”

“Very good night.”

Now I wanted the continuation, the kiss that would seal it. The green states had triumphed, the electoral college was secure, and I was in love with a boy who was in love with me.

“Somewhere Jesus is smiling,” Janna said.

“Praise be,” Mandy chimed in.

Keisha and Mira joined us in the halls, fingers entwined. They looked beamy, too.

“Not a bad day for gay Jew boys, huh?” Keisha said to me.

“Not a bad day for Afro-Chinese lesbians, either,” I pointed out.

Keisha nodded. “You know it’s the truth.”

We had all skipped school the previous two days to get out the vote. Since most of us weren’t old enough to drive, we acted as dispatchers, fielding calls from Kennedy-conscious old-age-home residents and angry-enough agoraphobic liberals,making sure the ESVs came to take them to the polls. Other kids, like Jimmy, had been at the polling places themselves, getting water and food for people as they waited hours for their turn to vote.

I felt that history was happening. Not like a natural disaster or New Year’s Eve.No, this was human-made history, and here I was an infinitesimally small part of it.We all were.

Suddenly I felt two arms wrap around me from behind, the two palms coming to rest at the center of my chest. Two very familiar hands–the chewed-up fingernails, the dark skin a little darker at the knuckles, the wire-thin pinkie ring, the bright red watch. The bracelet with two beads on it, jade for him and agate for me. I wore one just like it.

I smiled then–the same way I smiled every time I saw Jimmy.

He made me happy like that.

“Beautiful day,” he said to me.

“Beautiful day,” I agreed, then turned in his arms to give him that
this is real kiss.

The first bell rang. I still had to run to my locker before homeroom.

“Everything feels a little different today, doesn’t it?” Jimmy asked.

We kissed again, then parted. But his words echoed with me. I was too young to remember when the Supreme Court upheld the rights of gay Americans, and all the weddings started happening. But I imagined that day felt a lot like today. I’d heard so many people talk about it, about what it meant to know you had the same rights as everyone else, making anything possible. I knew that this time it was just the Presidency, and that Stein was likely to become more moderate to get along with Congress, especially since we’d only won by the margin of Kansas. But still . . . everything did feel a little different. Yes, the kids walking the halls around me were the same kids who’d been there yesterday. The books in my locker were piled just the way I’d left them. Mr. Farnsworth, my homeroom teacher, waited impatiently by his door, just like he always did. But it was like someone had upped the wattage of all the lights by a dozen watts. Someone had made the air two shades easier to breathe. I knew this feeling wouldn’t last. As soon as I realized it was euphoria, I knew it wouldn’t last. I couldn’t even hold on to it. I could only ride within it as far as it would carry me. The second bell rang. I sprinted into class, and Mr. Farnsworth closed the door.

“I expect to see you standing today,” he said to me.

This was the deal we had: If Stein won the Presidency, I would stand for the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time since elementary school. Even back then, I hated the way it seemed to be something rote and indoctrinated–most people saying the words emptily, without understanding them. I didn’t want to drone it unless I meant it. I’d always said the six last words, though. And today I said them extra loud, standing up.

With liberty and justice for all.
David Levithan

About David Levithan

David Levithan - Wide Awake

Photo © Beth Levithan

"A story doesn't have to always reflect reality; it can create reality as well."--David Levithan

David Levithan is a children’s book editor in New York City. He lives in Hoboken, NJ.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Levithan finds it downright baffling to write about himself, which is why he's considering it somewhat cruel and usual to have to write this brief bio.  The factual approach (born '72, Brown '94, book '03) seems a bit dry, while the emotional landscape (happy childhood, happy adolescence - give or take a few poems - and happy adulthood so far) sounds horribly well-adjusted.  The only addiction he's ever had was a brief spiral into the arms of diet Dr Pepper, unless you count My So-Called Life episodes as a drug.  He is evangelical in his musical beliefs and deathly afraid that his bio will end up sounding like the final paragraph in an on-line dating ad.
 
Luckily, David is much happier talking about his book than he is talking about himself.  Boy Meets Boy and The Realm of Possibility started as stories he wrote for his friends for Valentine's Day (something he's done for the past sixteen years) and turned themselves into teen novels. When not writing during spare hours on weekends, David is a senior editor at Scholastic, and the founding editor of the PUSH imprint, which is devoted to finding new voices and new authors in teen literature. With Boy Meets Boy, he basically set out to write the book that he dreamed of getting as an editor - a book about gay teens that doesn't conform to the old norms about gay teens in literature (i.e. it has to be about a gay uncle, or a teen who gets beaten up for being gay, or about outcasts who come out and find they're still outcasts, albeit outcasts with their outcastedness in common.)   He's often asked if the book is a work of fantasy or a work of reality, and the answer is right down the middle - it's about where we're going, and where we should be.
 
Of Boy Meets Boy, the reviewer at Booklist wrote:  "In its blithe acceptance and celebration of human differences, this is arguably the most important gay novel since Annie on My Mind and seems to represent a near revolution in the publishing of gay-themed books for adolescents" - which pretty much blew David away when he read it.  Viva la near revolution!


PRAISE

BOY MEETS BOY
“In a genre filled with darkness, torment, and anxiety, this is a shiningly affirmative and hopeful book.”—The Bulletin, Starred

“Levithan’s prophecy of a hate-free world in which everyone loves without persecution makes this a provocative and important read for all young adults, gay or straight.”—School Library Journal, Starred
Praise

Praise

“Levithan’s latest reaches out to shake readers awake, showing them how each person’s life touches another, and another, until ultimately history is made.”—Booklist, Starred

“In conjuring a world where every vote actually counts, Wide Awake stands with Levithan’s extraordinary Boy Meets Boy in sheer creativity of plot, setting, and message.”—School Library Journal

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