(NEXSTAR) — New York Times bestselling author David Levithan‘s newest young adult novel comes 20 years after his popular debut, “Boy Meets Boy” and 10 years following the release of his wildly successful “Two Boys Kissing.” The new book, “Ryan and Avery” actually pulls from “Two Boys Kissing” to center on two side characters introduced in it — giving the titular pair a love story of their own.
“Ryan and Avery” follows Avery, a transmasculine boy with pink hair, and Ryan, a blue-haired boy juggling being out in a small town. The novel chronicles their relationship from its beginning — a chance meeting at queer prom — to the 10 dates that follow.
The dates are described in poetic detail out of order, building emotional mysteries for each boy — and the reader — to figure out. In a note to readers, Levithan explains he’d expected to write a sprawling epic love story but instead wrote “the most intimate, most focused , moment-to-moment love story I could write.”
It’s exactly these small, intimate moments that may ring most true with young queer readers.
“Ryan and Avery” arrives as a new school year begins, and with it, likely many new challenges to LGBTQ young adult novels in schools. Queer books — or even just books with queer characters — have faced high scrutiny in recent years, with advocacy group PEN America estimating about 26% of banned titles having LGBTQ+ characters or themes.
As conservative-led book bans persist, the possibility of challenges is one all young adult authors, though especially those who write LGBTQ stories, must contend with. Levithan is no stranger to his books being banned.
Advocates and readers — both LGBTQ and not — argue it’s important for young queer people (or even straight people who may fall outside of traditional gender stereotypes) to see themselves reflected in media. And important to see queer people happy in media.
And while “Ryan and Avery” doesn’t cut away from difficulties each boy faces, the book also celebrates the transformative power of first love.
Levithan will celebrate the release with a launch party at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at Books of Wonder‘s 17th Street location. The New Jersey-based author also has several book events scheduled across the country through October.
“Ryan and Avery” is out Sept. 12 through Random House Children’s Books.