C'mon, you've seen the movie: As soon as the headstrong girl announces she's not going to fall in love, you know she'll be falling in love before the final credits. That's the way the story goes. Only it's not going to be my story. I am taking my story in my own hands. I don't care for the way it's supposed to go. Some people find happily ever after in being part of a couple, and for them, I say, good for you. But that's no reason we should all have to do it. That's no reason that every goddamn song and story has to say we should. - "Miss Lucy Has a Steamboat," p48Or:
What do I know about love? Not much--that's the safe answer. Even when I think I have a grasp on it, something comes along to make me realize I don't know anything at all. - "the escalator, a love story," p78In this collection of stories about love, David Levithan defines abstractions with the familiar, even the mundane, and then turns the mundane into springboards for some three o'clock epiphany. There are so many facets explored here: friendship, sex, obsession, heartbreak, gay love, straight love. Even with the overboard of romance in a collection like this, Mr Levithan keeps his characters from becoming cliches. They can be heartbreakingly honest. They can lie with conviction. They are confused. They are certain. He also takes us through different perspectives and narrative styles, ensuring that the writing is always fresh and never static.
The two stories that I mentioned above are some of my favorites, but they're not all. Others are "Starbucks Boy," "Flirting with Waiters," and "Without Saying," but even those I didn't mention shone with their own charm. It's testament to an author's skill when he can get a straight thirtysomething female reader empathizing with a gay teenager without feeling out of place or disjointed.
I've had How They Met and Other Stories for months now, but I'm glad I got to finish it before Valentine's. David Levithan must be cringing at being turned into a cliche, but this was just exactly what I needed to read. Love that's bitter, love that's sweet, and its other intersections in between.