04 March 2013

Review: Wide Awake by David Levithan

Wide Awake by David Levithan

Published: 12 September 2006 by Knopf

Pages: 240 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, GLBT, Politics

Source: Own library


In the not-too-impossible-to-imagine future, a gay Jewish man has been elected president of the United States. Until the governor of one state decides that some election results in his state are invalid, awarding crucial votes to the other candidate, and his fellow party member. Thus is the inspiration for couple Jimmy and Duncan to lend their support to their candidate by deciding to take part in the rallies and protests. Along the way comes an exploration of their relationship, their politics, and their country, and sometimes, as they learn, it's more about the journey than it is about reaching the destination.

My Thoughts

Reading the synopsis of Wide Awake, I found it difficult to see how David Levithan could pack religion, politics and sexuality into a book that's just over 200 pages long and make it meaningful.  It's a minefield of hot topics that could have been awkward, preachy or uncomfortably controversial.

But in true David Levithan style, he takes a story and completely ensnared me in the life of Duncan, his boyfriend Jimmy, his friends and a cast of characters caught up in the election of the first gay Jewish president of the United States.  Jimmy's world is similar to ours now, but global recession, war and terrorism have greatly changed the political and religious outlook of America and the rest of the world.  

Duncan is a sweet, rather naive boy who seems to believe that what is right will always win - and it's an endearing quality rather than a frustrating one, as the story of his journey in realising that the world can be a frightening and pretty unfriendly place when you are different.  In his home town, with his family and friends, his religion, sexuality and political beliefs are fairly widely accepted, with a few exceptions amongst his peers and with one particularly nasty teacher.

Jimmy is rather more dark and negative, but with Duncan as his partner they balance each other perfectly.  There's a fantastic supporting cast of teen and adult characters that make for a memorable group of people who are simply standing up for what they believe in, without any doubts that their cause will fail.

I love that David Levithan took a world that could have been dark and disturbing and made it into an exciting, interesting take on what change could really mean.  Although there are still divisions between religious and political beliefs, there are also groups that have changed how they interact with each other to make a more varied, joined country.  As an imagining, this world felt like a real possibility.

I enjoyed Wide Awake far more than I thought I would given the synopsis, and I loved returning to David Levithan's imagination.


  1. I haven't heard of this one before but I'm sorta curious how it turns out. Call my interest piqued on this one.

    1. It's definitely unique - and a very quick read :)

  2. Hahaha, you are so right about what a minefield that is.

    This book sounds really awesome! Why have I not heard of this? Like for real, I have not seen this book before. *is puzzled*

    1. You should definitely check this one out - David Levithan has an amazing imagination, AND handles all these bombs like a true professional!

  3. David Levithan is such a brilliant writer in terms of conception and eloquence. His ideas are always so original and in true Levithan fashion he weaves them together seamlessly so that they feel real. His prose is always beautiful and I will read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING he writes. He manages to take controversial issues and put them near and dear to the reader's heart, regardless of their personal beliefs and that's why I love him so much. Fantastic review, Kat!!

    1. You are spot on - he's so very good at taking an idea that could be very controversial and making the reader really comfortable with those ideas. The obsession will definitely continue!

  4. I'm surprised I hadn't heard of this before, given Levithan's popularity and my love of sci-fi books that really just mask explorations of current issues. Thanks for the review!



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