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Summary

In this companion to Openly Straight, Ben confronts pressure at school, repression at home, and his passion for two very different people in figuring out what it takes to be Honestly Ben.

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.

Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Andrew Smith, and John Green, Honestly Ben is a smart, laugh-out-loud novel that will speak to anyone who's struggled to be "honestly ____" in some part of their lives.

©2017 Bill Konigsberg (P)2017 Scholastic Inc.

Critic reviews

"Dan Bittner's narration develops the unique personality of 17-year-old Ben, a secondary character in Konigsberg's earlier book Openly Straight.... In this follow-up, Bittner quickly reveals Ben's intelligence and introspection.... In a complex portrait, Bittner captures Ben's confused central conflict - is he gay, or straight, or is he only 'gay-for-Rafe'? Keeping the plot engaging, Bittner highlights Ben's search for his identity." ( AudioFile)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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absolutely wonderful

loved this song much !! it's a beautiful story and beautifully told. awesome job! thanks

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jim S
  • 09-05-17

Better than the first book in the series!

Maybe because Ben is grappling with his bisexuality, his character is more complex and interesting than Rafe's.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-12-17

Honestly, I️ loved the first book.

This book... wow. I️ don’t know if it was a story or just pushing a political agenda. The thing is, it just pushes the gay stereotype in a way- Rafe finally comes out to the whole school (where the first book basically left off) and well- now I️ get why he was called the gay kid. Now I️ don’t mind a flamboyant character, but this wasn’t the Rafe I️ read about and loved. The book before tried telling me I️ could be myself and gay, the message made me happy, because sometimes I️ don’t feel like I️ can do all the things I️ could do if I️ was straight. Now I️ see Rafe walking around school as a different person, not at all like the Rafe in the first book. It’s as if it took the message and flopped it over and stomped on it. It wasn’t just Rafe either- everyone was a bit off... Maybe it was the change in the point of view. If so, Ben should never be able to write a book.

Let’s go back to how good the first book was...
It’s about a homosexual boy who complains about something that a lot of people would call a first world problem or something in that alley... which yes it is- BUT- it’s extremely relatable. The author did a great job of how Rafe acted and thought and how others reacted to his declaration. It felt real... and isn’t that what a book should have when it comes to relationships? I️ was realistic and heartbreaking.

*SPOILERS*

Ben doesn’t end up with Rafe? Why? Is this some kind of anti- gay propaganda? No. It’s just realistic. Rafe lied about being gay- he thought Rafe knew what he was going through. When someone lies to someone, even something small that really doesn’t affect them as a person (which is a great point the book makes because being gay shouldn’t suddenly turn you into some different person) ie: their name, you would lose a lot of trust and maybe be scared, mad, confused, etc. at this person. IT’S HUMAN. It didn’t force two boys together- it taught me a lesson, and that’s amazing .

Now cue the second book- I️ have too many things to say...

First off-

Ben’s feeling towards Rafe-

They don’t make sense. There’s no reason to it he really gives, any that are given are very convenient.
The relationship is incredibly forced that way- nothing really has a reason.

Now I️ don’t want to make this too long... the thing is it probably won’t get much longer because hardly anything was memorable.

First off, Toby being gender-fluid...

The author goes into it... but doesn’t make it go ANYWHERE. There is hardly and conflict and it is just shoved in there for political reasons. Everyone accepts him/her/them??? That’s not realistic at all. It’s giving a false hope- sure that sounds sad but it’s true. It’s hard for people and this is presenting a non realistic outcome.

Now... Ben’s Speech

WHEN THE HELL DID HE DECIDE TO GIVE THIS? WHY? THERES NO EXPLANATION HE JUST GIVES IT??? AFTER TELLING THE READER HE WONT TELL ANYONE HE CHEATED??? Ok???

Honestly, There were so many more problems... but... I️ don’t really want to spend more time in this book. I️ can hardly remember any of if. I️ will admit it had good moments... not that I️ can remember them but I’m sure it made me smile once or twice. Sorry if this review had bad grammar or whatever... it’s a lot easier to rant when you are talking.

This book really took something away from me- I️ don’t know what, but I️ just feel sick. It was horrible. Go read the first book- it didn’t ruin all books for me.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ben
  • 12-07-17

Wow.

What made the experience of listening to Honestly Ben the most enjoyable?

At first, it was a little jarring since the narrator was different, but I got used to it. I loved that Ben felt real. He didn't become who he wasn't in order to make a good story. He stayed himself the entire time, discovering more things about himself in every chapter. (Trying to keep it spoiler-free.)

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Probably the last hour-and-a-half of the book.It kind of toyed with my emotions.

Any additional comments?

Read/listen to the first book. Then read/listen to this one. The first book is great. This one is better. I don't care what your sexuality is. This book addresses so many important issues and does so well.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ara
  • 17-04-18

Love Story, problem with a few characters

Firstly, I LOVED this book. Ben is such a complex and loveable character, the book made me want only the best for him.
BUT...
So in the 1st book I loved how Rafe was written, maybe it was the voice or something but he sounded like a dumbass in this one. Ben and Rafe has amazing chemistry in the first one but in the second it was off. Also I don't know why but some of Albi's words were off for me too. Other than that, the charaters were amazing and it let me stay in the world of openly straight for a little longer. 9/10 stars from me :)

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  • cindy bowen
  • 15-04-18

So perfect

Loved, loved, loved this book! Ben is a precious cinnamon roll of a boy, and I ❤️ this book!!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • R. Stuart
  • 18-03-18

Wonderful story

This book along with Openly Straight are wonderful books. It took me back to how it feels in high school just coming out of the closet and feeling everything so intensely. Highly recommend!

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ryan P.
  • 15-03-18

Cute

Nice easy listen. I do not like Ben's attitude toward sexuality, he does not need to get so angry because people do not understand that he does not think he is gay or bi. People are trying to learn and understand sexuality in the world right now and it is more complex than most of us ever thought.

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  • Rodrigo Chavez
  • 31-01-18

Great sequel

After "Openly Straight" I wasn't sure I'd like the sequel coming from a different voice. But, it worked out in a great way. Getting to know Ben was a wonderful way to continue. Awesome books.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • chris
  • 05-12-17

Better than the first. Just enough of everything.

I enjoyed the first book, but LOVED this one. The change in narrator was a good move. He brought all the characters to life and in many ways elevated them to a new level. The journey of Ben was realistic, flawed and youthful just like you would imagine a 17-year-old high school guy who's struggling with his identity. The first book dealt mostly with cookie cutter behavior you would expect to find for this type of journey. Rafe's (problem) was also a bit self-centered and it was difficult to be sympathetic. Focusing on Ben this time around was a brilliant move because he has more substance and problems that are more relatable. The author somehow managed to deal with all the annoyances Rafe continued to demonstrate through Ben which was fantastic.

The journey for Ben and the other characters was very enjoyable. The subset of characters was also worked in at the right times.

I can't say enough good things about this book. I'm going to miss Ben, Rafe, and the gang. I hope there is another book in the series maybe in college. There is definitely more story to tell as both Ben, Rafe, Toby, and Albie continue to grow.

It's rare when the second book blows the first away, but this is definitely the case here. In theory, you could skip the first book, but because they are both character driven books, you won't really appreciate things as much if you bypass it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • George
  • 29-10-17

I'll keep reading

This deals with issues I have never seen attempted in LGBTQ literature before. it's sweet and sexy and shockingly profound. okay...the protagonist is unrealistically "good" and the relationships are way more mature than they would be, but I love this as a utopian escape. I was able to cast these characters from people from my own young life. I'll keep listening if Konigsberg keeps writing.