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Wide Awake by [Levithan, David]
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Wide Awake Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up–In this novel set in the near future, The Decents, who use God and family values to spread hate, are in the minority. The real Jesus freaks, who feel He would have loved everybody regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation, have prevailed. Gay, Jewish Duncan Weiss, 17, is elated when gay, Jewish Abe Stein is elected President of the United States. Then the governor of Kansas calls the election into question. The teen and a busload of his friends travel to Topeka to join millions in protest. Duncans arc from well-meaning bystander to political participant stands as allegory to the uselessness of empathy without action. Levithans dialogue is as natural and evocative as ever, and elegant, persuasive political speeches help sustain the wondrous mood. Duncans friend Gus, a campy man-slut who ends each sentence with la, provides much-needed comic relief. The members of The God Squad, Janna and Mandy, are equally natural and believable. Oddly, though, the romances lack juice. Duncans earnest narrative will engage any teen who has felt powerless, but his militant boyfriend, Jimmy, is just too flat to care about. Keisha, Mira, and Sara, a love triangle of indistinguishable lesbians, speak of pain that readers never feel. The story still moves briskly, by force of the uncertain outcome more than by involvement with the characters. However, in conjuring a world where every vote actually counts, Wide Awake stands with Levithans extraordinary Boy Meets Boy (Knopf, 2003) in sheer creativity of plot, setting, and message.–Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Boy Meets Boy (2003), Levithan created a town where being gay is no big thing. In his latest, he imagines a future America--after the Reign of Fear, after the Greater Depression, the War to End All Wars, the Jesus Revolution, and the Prada Riots. Living in this not quite but almost believable America are Duncan and his boyfriend, Jimmy, who start out the book rejoicing that Abe Stein, both gay and Jewish, has been elected president. Unsurprisingly, however, the governor of Kansas demands a recount, causing both Stein supporters and Stein haters to travel en masse to Kansas. Into this politically charged atmosphere go Duncan and Jimmy, who experience what proves to be a life-changing journey for them and their country. Levithan is best when he's focused on the two nuanced teenagers. Duncan's first-person narration--vulnerable, insecure, caring--absolutely sings, and his relationship with the outspoken Jimmy has all the awkwardness and intensity of first love. Clearly responding to current politics, Levithan's vision of the future occasionally dips into heavy-handed moralizing, but politics are so well integrated and thought-provoking that those moments are forgivable. As much about love as about politics, Levithan's latest reaches out to shake readers awake, showing them how each person's life touches another, and another, until ultimately history is made. Krista Hutley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 909 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 9, 2008)
  • Publication Date: September 9, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FSL2FI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,319 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kelly Herold on December 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
David Levithan's newest novel, "Wide Awake," is a political novel set "in the near future." Here's the set up:

"The Greater Depression happened. The events of 3/12 and 7/23 happened. The Andreas Quake and Hurricane Wanda. The President launched his War to End All Wars, which only managed to create more wars and the tragic events of 4/5. The Greater Depression deepened. Millions of people died, and there was no way to erase their faces from the more renegade open news channels, which wanted to remind everyone how bad the government had let things get. The Decents and their program of Denial Education reached their peak."

The hero and narrator of "Wide Awake" is a Jewish, gay teen named Duncan who is engaged politically for the first time in his life. After all the troubles of his childhood and the generation(s) before, it seems as if a new era is on the horizon. His presidential candidate, Abraham Stein, a Jewish gay man with a partner and children, has been elected. People are behaving differently, celebrating their ethnic, cultural, and sexual differences. And supporting them all is a sizable group of Jesus Freaks.

"For the Jesus Revolutionaries, the answer was clear: Jesus would not be out waging "preventative" wars. Jesus would not be withholding medicine from people who could not afford it. Jesus would not cast stone at people of races, sexual orientations, or genders other than his own. Jesus would not condone the failing, viperous, scandal-plagued hierarchy of some churches. Jesus would welcome everyone to his table. He would love them, and he would find peace."

Sounds like a utopian novel so far, right? But there's a hitch. A hitch in the form of Kansas. Stein's election is being contested. To the tune of 1,000 votes. (Sound familiar?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What a disappointment! I have adored everything else I've read by David Levithan but this was embarrassing. The premise seemed cool enough--a dystopian future where a Jewish gay man becomes president after our country has fallen apart and rebuilt itself. And it started off well, too! The beginning really painted a nice picture of where our narrator, Duncan, was living.

And, it fell flat.

Basically, good old President-elect Stein was having his election thrown in question because Kansas was too close to call and the governor demanded a recount. (Sound familiar?) So, all the Stein supporters flocked to Kansas to express their dissent for the governor and support for the infallible Stein. It should have been interesting, but all the characters were bland cardboard cut outs of real people. Their struggles in life were non-existent. Duncan loved his boyfriend and was worried he didn't love him back. (Don't worry-- he does. And they don't break up, falter, cheat on one another, find someone else attractive, etc. etc. He just, you know, realizes that he loves him.) These characters just bumble through the story and it's annoying. There is no conflict, save for some minor characters cheating on one another, but even still they're so one dimensional it's hard to care about their struggles. Maybe the story should have been told from their point of view? I don't know.

What really bothered me were the small, lazy choices. For instance, even though I can tell you all sorts of stupid details about Abe Stein and his VP Alice Martinez, I cannot tell you a single thing about his opponent. The opponent was so unimportant he wasn't even given a name. His VP wasn't even given a gender. That is so lazy. Okay, so he wasn't even worth a name? Not even "Bob Smith"?
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Format: Hardcover
Decades from today, the results of the election are out, and for the first time in the history of the United States, a gay, Jewish president, Abraham Stein, has been elected. After the Greater Depression, the War to End All Wars, the Reign of Fear, and the Jesus Revolution, the moment has arrived. Seventeen-year-old Duncan, who has spent the last few months working with his boyfriend, Jimmy, as a volunteer at the campaign headquarters, can finally stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance because at last the words "with liberty and justice for all" make sense.

But soon everything will take a 180-degree turn. The governor of Kansas, a member of the opposition party, demands a recount. Stein is determined to fight back, and asks all the people who have elected him to go to Kansas and show their support. Everyone at the election headquarters decides to board their bus that night and join this pilgrimage to Kansas.

Duncan, always insecure, always wondering about what Jimmy will think and what will happen to their relationship, knows that going to Kansas is the right thing to do. It's the once in a lifetime opportunity to help write history, and he decides to board the bus despite his parents' disapproval.

However, the trip proves to be more challenging than he thought. Duncan and Jimmy's relationship seems strained. Their friend Keisha finds out that her girlfriend, Mira, was having an affair with another girl in the group. And when the group arrives in Topeka, Kansas, they have to endure the insults and vicious attacks of the Decents (the supporters of the opposition party). They camp out in the center of town, along with more than half a million other people, with not much food, only a few accommodations, and no quick resolution in sight. Will it be worth it?
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