The companion to the award-winning Openly Straight and earner of three starred reviews, called "remarkable...deeply satisfying and as honest as its appealing protagonist" (Booklist). Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith, and John Green. Ben Carver is back to normal. He's working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He's even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past. Except... There's Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There's his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there's Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.
But Ben doesn’t feel like he’s perfectly normal. The stress of others’ expectations is weighing on him… and then there’s the *whatever* that happened with his best friend Rafe last semester. And whatever THAT was and his reaction to it has ensured that he doesn’t really have a best friend anymore.
In short, Ben is starting to drown, and he’s trying to figure out how to keep himself afloat.
HONESTLY BEN is the first book by Bill Konigsberg that I’ve read—I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it’s true—and after finishing it, my first thought was “I want to read all of his other books, and then I want to read them again, and then I want to be Bill Konigsberg's best friend and hang out with him all the time.”
I’m sure that wouldn’t be creepy to him at all.
As for the book, HONESTLY BEN is a beautiful portrayal of a young man’s attempt to figure out who he is. But it’s not just beautiful, it’s funny too. And to make it even better, it’s full of tension and low-key action and, ultimately, acceptance. But not in a way that ties everything up neatly, which makes the book even better.
Ben is one of my favorite YA literary characters, and at moments in the book when I want to roll my eyes because he’s just TOO perfect, he’s kind enough to do something insensitive or selfish. His relationships with his friends, his teammates, his girlfriend, and his boyfriend are all authentic—heck, HE’S authentic.
HONESTLY BEN has more wit and wisdom than any YA book I’ve read in a while, and I think most readers will be able to identify with it some way. I’m really looking forward to reading more from the author.
My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
A great main character