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How They Met and Other Stories

by David Levithan

Published by Knopf, 2008
244 pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-84886-5

Age 13 and older

As a junior in high school, David Levithan was bored one day in his physics class and he began to write a short story about love, using the concepts and vocabulary he was learning in physics. (“She feared fusion would only bring fission, with the mass deficits too great and the energy spent too time consuming to make the romantic endeavor worthwhile.”) He worked on the story over the next few months so that he could give it to his friends on Valentine’s Day. That started an annual tradition that he’s continued to this day. Many of the eighteen short stories in this collection are from his Valentine’s Day offerings, including “A Romantic Inclination,” the story he started in his physics class at age sixteen; “Memory Dance,” written a year later when he was a senior; and “The escalator, a love story,” written when he was in college. Five stories in How They Met have been previously published in other collections, and others were written just for this volume. Each story deals with romantic love, particularly the giddy sort of love that defines so much of adolescence. Half of the stories feature gay main characters falling in and out of love, and Levithan excels at these. His well-rounded characters are shown with both depth and humor, and when their families are added to the mix, as they are in “Princes” and “What a Song Can Do,” the result is nothing short of brilliant. In “Princes” an 18-year-old boy comes out to his family by announcing that he has a boyfriend he wants to bring to his brother’s Bar Mitzvah. More than anything, he means to shock the family. Instead, his family – and particularly his younger brother – shocks him with their acceptance. In “What a Song Can Do,” a love-sick teenage song writer performs in public for the first time, thinking he’s singing a song he wrote about the less-than-perfect relationship he has with his boyfriend. He realizes mid-song that he’s actually singing to the parents he’s grown away from but still loves. Whether the characters are straight or gay, all of the stories are ultimately about the same things: What attracts one person to another? What miracle of chance brought them together? And, as the author first mused as a sixteen-year-old in a high school physics class: “After the initial impulse, would the momentum remain constant?” (KTH) ©2008 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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