Levithan, David 1972–
Levithan, David 1972–
PERSONAL: Born 1972, in Short Hills, NJ. Education: Brown University, B.A., 1994. Hobbies and other interests: Photography.
CAREER: Writer; Scholastic, New York, NY, editorial director of Push imprint. New School University Graduate School of Creative Writing, New York, NY, professor of children's and teen literature.
(Editor) You Are Here, This Is Now: The Best Young Writers and Artists in America: A Push Anthology, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2002.
Boy Meets Boy, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
The Realm of Possibility, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Are We There Yet?, Knopf (New York, NY), 2005.
Marly's Ghost: A Remix of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, illustrated by Brian Selznick, Dial (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor, with Ann M. Martin) Friends: Stories about New Friends, Old Friends, and Unexpectedly True Friends, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
(Editor) When We Are, What We See: A Push Anthology, Scholastic (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Rachel Cohn) Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
(Editor, with Billy Merrell) The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing about Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Wide Awake, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to anthologies, including Everything Man for Himself, edited by Nancy Mercato; Sixteen, edited by Megan McCafferty, Three Rivers Press, 2004, and What a Song Can Do, edited by Jennifer Armstrong, Knopf, 2004.
The Mummy: A Junior Novelization (based on the motion picture by Stephen Sommers), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
(With Anne Downey and James Preller) The Mummy: Movie Scrapbook, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1999.
101 Ways to Get away with Anything! (based on the television series Malcolm in the Middle), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
101 Ways to Stop Being Bored (based on the television series Malcolm in the Middle), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2003.
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (based on the motion picture by John August), Aladdin (New York, NY), 2003.
The Perfect Score (based on the motion picture by Mark Hyman and Jon Zack), Simon Spotlight (New York, NY), 2004.
Also author of a novelization of the movie Ten Things I Hate about You and spin-off books based on the movie The Sixth Sense.
WORK IN PROGRESS: More novels.
SIDELIGHTS: David Levithan has written several novels for teens and young adults, as well as novelizations of movies and television-show tie-ins. Several of his novels actually began as short stories written as Valentine's Day gifts for friends, a tradition he began many years ago; his novels Boy Meets Boy, The Realm of Possibility, and Are We There Yet? all got their start this way. Along with his work as a writer, Levithan works as editorial director and executive editor at Scholastic, where his responsibilities include editing the entire Push imprint. A line focusing on new voices and new authors in young adult literature, Push led to Levithan's editorship of the anthology You Are Here, This Is Now: The Best Young Writers and Artists in America: A Push Anthology, which was the first book-length work to feature his name on its cover.
Levithan's first original novel, Boy Meets Boy, is set in a utopian high school where all students are tolerated, regardless of their sexual preference. At this high school, the football quarterback is also a drag queen, and narrator Paul is in the middle of a tricky romance. He has just broken up with Kyle and is beginning a new relationship with Noah, but Noah suspects Paul of being unfaithful, and Paul has to prove his feelings for Noah. According to Michael Rosen in the London Guardian, Levithan has "written a book that cunningly superimposes some previously unwritten-about feelings and behaviour on to a thoroughly familiar frame." Rosen went on to compare Boy Meets Boy to the popular teen romances set in the fictional Sweet Valley High, and television shows such as Saved by the Bell and concluded that the novel "is intimate, feel-good, and quick-fire." Michael Cart, writing in Booklist, considered Boy Meets Boy to be "the first upbeat gay novel for teens," while Johanna Lewis pointed out in School Library Journal that "Levithan's prophecy of a hate-free world in which everyone loves without persecution makes this a provocative and important read." Lambda reviewer Nancy Garden saw the book less as prophetic than as an achievable goal: "We are treated to a glimpse of what life can and should be for GLBT kids, and what, in some enlightened parts of the country, it to a large extent already is."
The Realm of Possibility, Levithan's second novel, is a series of linked poems, taking the perspectives of twenty students from the same high school to create a communal picture of what their lives are like. The perspectives of a wide variety of teens, from the outsiders to the most popular, give details about friendship, relationships, and changes that happen during high school. The book begins with a poem by Daniel and wraps up with a poem by his boyfriend, Jed. Though initially, the poems seem to stand alone, connections can be drawn among them to form a narrative. Miranda Doyle, writing in School Library Journal, called The Realm of Possibility an "enchanting collection of linked poems that delve deep and go far beyond the original stereotypes." John Green, a contributor to Booklist, considered the book a "hugely ambitious novel in verse," noting that while some teen readers will be frustrated by the structure, "the distinct voices and plethora of poetic styles make for interesting reading."
The relationship between two brothers is the focus of Levithan's Are We There Yet? Seventeen-year-old Eli-jah and his older brother, Danny, an advertising executive, are tricked into taking a trip to Italy together by their parents. While their parents feel it will be good for the brothers to bond, Elijah and Danny believe they are so different that they share little common ground. When Elijah falls for a college dropout named Julia, it seems like true love, but Julia is interested in Danny as well. The story alternates point of view from Elijah to Danny, so that each brother's experience is fleshed out. Calling the novel "insightful and gently humorous," School Library Journal reviewer Susan Riley commented that Levithan "gets better and better with each book." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the author "works his magic creating two real and round narrators in a series of poetic vignettes."
When asked by an interviewer on the Barnes & Noble Web site to give his advice for writers waiting to be discovered, Levithan commented: "Don't write to be published. Write because it's something you want (or have) to write."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2003, Michael Cart, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 1980; January 1, 2004, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 779; September 1, 2004, John Green, review of The Realm of Possibility, p. 108.
Guardian (London, England), April 15, 2005, Michael Rosen, review of Boy Meets Boy.
Horn Book, January-February, 2004, Roger Sutton, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 83.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 1075; July 15, 2004, review of The Realm of Possibility, p. 689; July 1, 2005, review of Are We There Yet?, p. 738.
Lambda Book Report, March-April, 2004, Nancy Garden, "Brave New World," p. 32.
Publishers Weekly, October 6, 2003, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 85; April 11, 2005, John F. Baker, "YA Stars Combine on Novel," p. 16; July 11, 2005, audiobook review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 97.
School Librarian, summer, 2005, Gerry McSourley, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 103.
School Library Journal, September, 2003, Johanna Lewis, review of Boy Meets Boy, p. 216; June, 2004, Angela M. Boccuzzi, review of The Perfect Score, p. 145; September, 2004, Miranda Doyle, review of The Realm of Possibility, p. 211; April, 2005, review of The Realm of Possibility, p. S72; July, 2005, Susan Riley, review of Are We There Yet?, p. 105.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 2005, Nancy Zachary, review of The Realm of Possibility, p. 14.
Barnes & Noble Web site, http://www.bn.com/ (December 20, 2005), interview with Levithan.
David Levithan Home Page, http://www.davidlevithan.com (November 30, 2005).
Teen Reads.com, http://www.teenreads.com/ (November 30, 2005), "David Levithan."