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Written by Rachel CohnAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Rachel Cohn and David LevithanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Levithan



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On Sale: August 28, 2007
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-375-89072-7
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books

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On Sale: January 13, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7393-8121-2
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The quintessential Girl-Likes-Boy-Who-Likes-Boys, from the New York Times bestselling authors of NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST!

Naomi and Ely are best friends. Naomi loves and is in love with Ely, and Ely loves Naomi, but prefers to be in love with boys. So they create their "No Kiss List" of people neither of them is allowed to kiss. And this works fine…until Bruce.

Bruce is Naomi's boyfriend, so there's no reason to put him on the List. But when Ely kisses Bruce, the result is a rift of universal proportions. Can these best friends come back together again? Or will this be the end of Naomi and Ely: the institution?

Told in alternating voices using an array of emoticons and symbols by co-authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, co-author of WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON with John Green (THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), NAOMI AND ELY’S NO KISS LIST is the ultimate offbeat love—and in love—story.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

NAOMI

Shiver

I lie all the time.

I lied to Mrs. Loy from the fourteenth floor when I assured her that I walked her dog three times a day and watered her plants while she went to Atlantic City to win the money for her son’s sad operation (or for her own elective plastic surgery— I’m not sure).

I lied to the co-op board of my family’s apartment building about my mom’s episode that left our living room wall in partial collapse soon after Dad left. I also backed up Mom’s lies to the board that we’d pay for the damage. Monkeys will fly outta my butt before we’ll be able to come up with the money to fix the fallout. The way I figure, if Mom and I aren’t bothered living in ruins, why should the co-op board care?

I lied to the NYU Admissions Committee that I care about my future and my education. I’m barely a year out of high school, and already I know this NYU deal is a losing proposition. I live out the college freshman lie to hold on to the only thing in my life that’s not in ruins—Ely.

I lied to Robin (Å) from psych class when I assured her that Robin (Ä) from that time at the Starbucks at Eighth and University Y her and will call her. There’s no $$$ for me to move into the school dorms, and Robin’s a sophomore with a rare single who goes home on the weekends and lets me use her place when I need to escape The Building. The apartment building where I’ve lived my whole life may be situated on prime Greenwich Village real estate, but escape from it is my prime priority: escape from parent drama or my lies or Mr. McAllister, the creepy up-and-down elevator man who lives down the hall from Mrs. Loy and who’s been ogling me since I was thirteen and my breasts first announced themselves in the elevator mirror.

I’ve lied to Mom every time I’ve told her I’ve stayed the night at Robin’s when really I’ve stayed over at my boyfriend’s dorm room. I lie to myself that I need to lie about my whereabouts. It’s not like Bruce the Second and I are doing it. We’re more about a & in bed, then turn out the light, and —just sleep—’til he leaves in the morning for his accounting class. I lie to him that I think accounting is a worthwhile subject to study.

I lied to Robin (Ä) when he won our chess game in Washington Square Park after that time with Robin (Å), and the price of my loss was my supposed obligation to answer Truth to his midnight question. Robin said he’d watched five men trip over themselves from checking me out, while I merely glared at them. Robin wanted to know if I use my beauty for good or evil. Evil, I assured him. Lie. Truth: I’m as pure as fresh snow over Washington Square Park on a winter morning, before the dogs and people and machines of this hard, hard city batter its perfect, peaceful beauty.

I lied to Bruce the Second when I promised we would have sex, the real kind, soon. Very soon. We’d barely made it to ` when his R.A. walked in and interrupted us. It felt like cheating on Ely.

I lied to Bruce the First when I let him believe he would be my first. Ely is supposed to be first. I can wait. Then maybe I’ll let Bruce the Second truly be second.

I lied to the three different men and one girl at the Astor Place Starbucks who eyed me in the wall mirror today and then wanted to sit in the empty chair opposite mine. I pretended I didn’t hear them through my ?. They could go Ë themselves elsewhere. I placed my feet up on the empty chair, to reserve it for Ely. Only Ely.

Mostly, I lie to Ely. N lie to ee-lie.

Ely calls my cell while I lie in wait for him. “I’m running late. Be there in about fifteen minutes. Hold my chair for me. Love you.” He hangs up before I can reply. I lie to Starbucks that I even drink Starbucks while lounging around in their chairs, killing time.

We’ve already survived so much together, what’s fifteen minutes more to wait for him? His absence is time gained to spool my un-truths.

I lied to Ely when I told him I forgive his mom for what happened between our parents. I lied to Ely that I’m happy for him since his parents worked things out and stayed together even though mine didn’t and now my dad lives not in The Building anymore, far away.

I lied to my mom that the damage is done but it’s fine if she needs to take her time to process the fallout before she can find her future. I lied by comforting her that I believe she’ll make it through. It’s not that I don’t think she can. She just doesn’t want to.

I lie to all the related parties when I let them believe Dad calls my cell to check in on me every week. Once a month (the odd-numbered ones) is more like it.

Dad’s not worried about me. He knows I have Ely.

Ely rarely leaves me, or ends a phone call, without first telling me “I love you.” It’s Ely’s way of saying “good-bye”—like a promise toward our future time together. I lie when I throw back the words “I love you, too.”

The complexity embedded in the different levels of meaning that go along with the words “I love you” ought to be a whole mindfuck of a video game, if anyone ever wanted to develop the concept.

Player One: Naomi.

Level 1: “I love you” to my mom, meaning I love you for giving me life, nurturing me, driving me crazy but still inspiring me, even through your heartache. Basic.

Level 2: “I love you” to my dad, said with sincerity that’s tinged with coldness, distrustful whether he can actually deliver on the sentiment when he returns it. Harder.

Level 3: The playful “I love you” I throw at my boyfriend when he waits for me outside my class with a hot coffee and a donut. This grade of “I love you” is understood to have no intent whatsoever of L-O-V-E luuuv. Our relationship is too new for that, and he understands this, too. When Bruce the Second says “I love you” after I . . . do certain things with him, he is careful to immediately divert away, like “I love you when you yell at the frat guys making too much noise down the halls when we’re alone in my room. You give most excellent bitch tirade, and now all those guys only envy me more. I love you for that.” Whatever.

Levels 4–9: Expressions of passion for the great loves of my life, like disco music, Snickers bars, the Cloisters, the NBA, stairwell games, the luck to have a life lived with Ely.

Here’s where the game gets trickiest.

Level 10 (but on a whole other plane, where maybe numbers can’t even exist): When I tell Ely “I love you,” but I’m not lying to him. I’m lying to myself. He absorbs my words as if they’re natural, coming from his best friend / almost-a-sister. And Player One: Naomi does mean it that way. Genuinely. But maybe other ways, too. The confusing and impossible ways.

Game stalled.

Truth intrudes.

Lies are easier to process.

I lied to Ely that I’m okay with gay. I am. Just not for Ely. He was supposed to belong to me in the Happily Ever After. Manifest destiny.

I lied to Ely that of course I recognized his true manifest destiny was the queendom of queerdom and hadn’t that been obvious all along? Right! And great! Except not! We’ve practically been promised to each other from childhood, grew up side by side, his family in 15J, mine in 15K. Naomi & Ely. Ely & Naomi. Never one without the other. Just ask any- one within a ten-block radius of the Fourteenth Street Whole Foods, where the entire Indian hot-bar section witnessed the disaster fallout between our two sets of parents. Naomi & Ely: played doctor (Å) / nurse (Ä) together; learned how to kiss while rehearsing in private for the lead roles in our junior high production of Guys and Dolls together; shared a locker and their high school experiences together; and chose to attend NYU together, chose to remain side by side at home instead of move into the nearby dorms, for reasons of cost efficiency and of Naomi & Ely co-dependency.

When Ely finally finds me at Starbucks, he’s breathless and red-cheeked from running in the winter cold. He collapses into the chair I’ve reserved for him.

I hand Ely the hot chocolate the Starbucks manager comped me. “Get up,” I tell him. “We gotta go.”

“Why, Naomi?” he pleads. “Why? I only just got here.”

I grab his free hand and we’re off, right back outside onto the cold, hard pavement, where we immediately fall into the typical Naomi & Ely routine of hand-and-cup-holding, hurried-walking-and-talking-while-maneuvering-through-sidewalk-people lockstep.

“Trust me,” I say.


From the Hardcover edition.
Rachel Cohn|David Levithan

About Rachel Cohn

Rachel Cohn - Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
People often ask me why I decided to become a writer, and my answer is simple: I became a writer because I had to do something with all the voices in my head, or I’d go crazy. Fiction writing seemed the most logical—and healthy—outlet for these voices.
 
What happens is this: I’ll be walking along the street in New York City, where I live, and I will see something that piques my interest—for instance, a sign for the annual Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn. All of a sudden, there’s a fourteen-year-old girl inside my head begging, “I wanna go! I wanna go!” She’ll literally shout ideas and thoughts through my brain until not only do I have to go the Mermaid Parade, but I also have to investigate her story. Who is she, exactly? Where does she live? Who are her family? Why does she want to go to the Mermaid Parade so badly? Trying to figure her out can also cause me to almost be hit by the many people and buses whose paths I cross, because I am too busy transcribing her voice from my head into my iPhone to remember when I finally sit down to write her story that I become neglectful about watching where I’m going. Oops. Working on that.
 
A lot of people assume that the writer’s life is very glamorous, and I’m not going to lie to you. It is. I have two cats, named Bunk and McNulty, who wake me up early in the morning to be fed and played with. It turns out they also like their thoughts and feelings to be present in my books, so my working day begins immediately with some cozy fur-rubbing to ignite it. There’s no dress code for my job, so I often spend the whole day wearing jammies. I have no set lunch hour, so if I want to nibble M&Ms at my desk all day, who’s to say I can’t? And hey, if no one’s around my desk, why not blast music loudly while working, too? So there you have it, the essence of my writer’s day: characters’ (human and feline) voices in my head demanding their stories be told, while I wear PJs and eat M&Ms, to the beat of very blasted music.
 
The best part of my job? Readers like you, when I get to meet them and hear how the voices inside my head that got turned into stories that became books that someone actually read . . . and related to! In my opinion, that right there is the real glamour of my job. Though the kitties and pajamas and candy and tunes aren’t so bad, either. Just sayin’.

About David Levithan

David Levithan - Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

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

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