Title: Honestly Ben
Author: Bill Konigsberg
First published March 28, 2017
330 pages, Hardcover
ISBN: 9780545858267 (ISBN10: 0545858267)
Ben Carver is back in his normal routine. Excelling in his classes at the prestigious Natick School, Ben has just been appointed captain of the school’s baseball team.
He’s even earned himself a scholarship for college – if he can just maintain his impressive grades. However, his focus is tested when he meets the stunningly beautiful Hannah, who he can’t seem to shake from his thoughts.
As Ben navigates the challenges of school and relationships, he starts to notice that his mother is not as content as he once thought. With the pressure rising and his scholarship slipping away, Ben must decide what kind of normal he truly needs – and whether that includes Rafe, a person he never thought he’d see again.
About the Author
Bill Konigsberg was born in 1970 in New York City to parents who had high expectations for his athletic abilities. However, his soccer career peaked in 1978 when he was chosen for the “D” team at Camp Greylock.
Despite not becoming a professional baseball player, disc jockey, or a member of the Village People, Bill has had a series of interesting jobs, including driver recruiter and sales consultant.
Moving to Denver in 1996, Bill struggled with his fashion sense and was voted Least Stylish Gay Guy in the area for three years. He worked at ESPN and ESPN.com, where he became known for oversharing and earned a GLAAD Media Award for his column “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.” He continued oversharing in graduate school and was voted Most Chill Teacher of freshman composition.
Bill’s first novel, Out of the Pocket, won the Lambda Literary Award in 2009, and his subsequent novels have also received acclaim. His latest book, The Music of What Happens, is a romance between two boys and features a food truck that makes cloud eggs, despite Bill’s egg phobia.
Currently residing in Chandler, Arizona, Bill has a husband and two dogs, Mabel and Buford.
Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg explores the themes of identity, sexuality, and family in the context of a prep school setting. Konigsberg is a renowned young adult author who has published several books on LGBTQ+ themes.
The sequel to Konigsberg’s award-winning novel, Openly Straight, Honestly Ben continues the story of Ben Carver, a high-achieving student at the exclusive Natick School. In this novel, Ben grapples with his growing feelings for his best friend, a girl named Hannah, while also trying to come to terms with his own sexuality.
The novel is set in a privileged, predominantly white world where social conformity is prized above all else. Ben, the son of a wealthy businessman and a lawyer, is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a successful entrepreneur.
However, as he navigates his own identity and his evolving relationships with his parents and friends, he begins to realize that his true passions lie elsewhere. Konigsberg’s writing is engaging and authentic, capturing the nuances of teenage life with a deft hand.
He imbues his characters with depth and complexity, making them feel like real people rather than caricatures. The novel is also well-plotted and paced, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.
One of the strengths of Honestly Ben is the way it deals with the intersection of sexuality and class. Konigsberg does an excellent job of showing how privilege can insulate someone from the harsh realities of coming out and being different.
He also explores the complex web of relationships that exist in such a closed, insular world, where reputation and social standing are paramount. However, the novel is not without its flaws.
Some readers may find the privileged setting and characters off-putting, and the novel could have delved deeper into issues of race and gender. Additionally, some readers may find the resolution of the book’s central conflict unsatisfying.
Overall, Honestly Ben is a well-written and thought-provoking novel that will resonate with readers who are grappling with questions of identity and belonging. It is a valuable addition to the young adult LGBTQ+ canon and will be of interest to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories.