Book: Wide Awake

"Wide Awake"

Everything seems to be going right in Duncan’s life: The candidate he’s been supporting for president has just won the election. Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy, is with him to celebrate. Love and kindness appear to have won the day.

But all too quickly, things start to go wrong. The election is called into question…and Duncan and Jimmy’s relationship is called into question, too. Suddenly Duncan has to decide what he’s willing to risk for something he believes in…and how far he’s willing to go to hold on to the people he holds dear.

Perfectly weaving together a heartfelt love story and a possible political future, David Levithan has crafted an insightfully drawn novel that reminds us how history is built–one action, one person, and one belief at a time.

I really don’t like Duncan’s boyfriend, Jimmy. I understand that this is a weird way to start my reaction piece, but it seemed right that I should begin with that.

Jimmy is a bully, and I don’t like the book completely because I kept thinking that he doesn’t deserve Duncan who just wants to be loved. Oh, sure, he’s not the only gray character in the book, and we actually have a couple of characters who do worse things. But neither one gets a happily ever after, why should Jimmy?

He did not repent. He did not learn anything. He is being rewarded for being a bully.

And I think it’s safe to say that the book really affected me. At the same time, I think this is David Levithan’s most reaching work. Both in a good way, and in a bad way.

The good: Wide Awake has realistic characters. Yes, even bully Jimmy is a realistic portrayal of someone who is maligned, but feels superior to other people.

The way Levithan writes his characters to deal with reality is exceptional. And inspiring. The good characters, like Duncan and Janna (who you’ll meet within the pages of the book), will want you to become a better person. Their actions reach into your heart, touches it, and tells you that it’s okay to go against the grain, to go for what you believe in, provided that you’re not hurting anyone.

And the bad: the whole thing is wrapped up too cleanly, I think. It’s awesome that good triumphs over evil. But come on, after showing us realistic representations, the outcome could’ve been more realistic too.

I mean, I like the happy ending. But in real life, the opponent would’ve put up a bigger fight. Things would not have been that peaceful. And parents would’ve done everything to get their children back into their homes.

Maybe it’s because I’m not American and don’t really have first-hand knowledge of their culture and how parent-children relationships work there. Maybe. But you would think these so-called loving and caring parents would love and care more about their children who are in a few states over, taking a stand in a political rally that they know could go wrong in so many ways.

Wide Awake is a great dream. So long as you set an alarm for a wake up call.

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