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Openly Straight

Narrated by: Pete Cross
Series: Openly Straight, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (69 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Rafe is a normal teenager from Colorado. He's been out since 8th grade, accepted by his peers & championed by his progressive parents. And while that's important, all Rafe really wants is to be a regular guy. To have his sexuality be a part of who he is, but not the headline, every single time. So when Rafe transfers to an all-boys' boarding school in New England, he decides to keep his sexuality a secret - not so much going back in the closet as starting over with a clean slate. But then he sees a classmate breaking down and realizes his own labels aren't well-concealed. And most of all, he falls in love with Ben...who doesn't even know that love is possible.

©2015 Bill Konigsberg (P)2017 Dreamscape Media, LLC

Critic Reviews

"From the first, Pete Cross's narration describes the high spirits of Rafe and his family.... The humor continues outwardly throughout the book, but Cross undercuts it with Rafe's uncomfortable inner feelings.... Cross's delivery reflects how Rafe wrestles with honesty, hides truths in a romantic relationship, and finally faces the painful path to becoming his real self." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Openly Straight

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    5 out of 5 stars
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LOVED this!

Fun and thoughtful! Rafe is sick of being labeled as “the gay guy” in his small town, so takes the opportunity to pass as “openly straight” when he starts at a private boarding school across the country. When he falls for Ben things start to unravel! I loved the characters, the storyline, and exploration of identity!! Great performance by Pete Cross ❤️

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Thoughtful

This book really resonated with me. I found the protagonist engaging and allowed me to reflect on my own experiences. Strongly recommended.

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I'm torn

I really liked the romance, but Rafe the pov character just... continually makes terrible decisions. And a couple of times it felt like for the sake of the plot the characters were really, beyond stupid about stuff which should be quite obvious. I'm not sure the heart of the story is really something that needs to be told - yeah, it's easier to pretend not to be gay! Cooool... I'm aware of that already. It was charming, but felt quite poorly thought through, concept and theme-wise Also some super awkward references to how whacky and out there (and implied; wrong) trans, genderqueer and gender divergent people are.

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I’ll be reading this one again (and again)

My reviews generally extend only so far as star ratings. I choose to extend myself on this review and actually provide an opinion. Excellent....enjoyable.....charming. I didn’t want it to end. Possibly the best narration to words that are so beautifully put together. Thank you both.

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  • Ed
  • 18-05-2018

An awaking

A great story with an emotional roller coaster plot. An amazing perspective on both sides of why being true to yourself is important.

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  • Jacob
  • 09-04-2018

Beautiful story

Where was this book when I was 17!? This helped heal very real and deep wounds I didn’t even know where there. Funny, gut wrenching, heart ache and triumphs are all in this wonderful journey our young protagonist starts. Love, from a foot tapper.

12 people found this helpful

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  • A's Mom
  • 23-09-2017

Perspective

Great writing and eye opening perspective. Although sometimes painful, this story seems so valuable for sharing a view that is impossible to get from the straight side. I also appreciated that the character is in high school and how being gay affects his view of the world.

6 people found this helpful

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  • work in progress
  • 24-09-2017

I love this book

This book is wonderful. I was just thinking about the fact that I haven’t heard a book in awhile where I actually care what happens to the characters. I love these beautiful kids. I want them to be real. I think think they are real. I chose this story because it was the Audible Pick if the Day. I know I wouldn’t have tried it otherwise; I wouldn’t have waisted my credit on it because I normally read thrillers. This story tugged at my heart strings and made me laugh out loud. It’s beautiful.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Greg Hollinshead
  • 28-04-2020

Not a romance novel

I grabbed this with my monthly credits as 1) a romance novel, 2) a queer romance novel and came out of the experience pretty disappointed. After thinking about it, my disappointment is because this is not even slightly trying to be a romance novel and shouldn't have been marketed as such because this is a story about how Rafe comes to terms with both being gay and how people and the world change to respond to that fact. I came into being pansexual as a straight-presenting cis man in my later twenties so perhaps I am not the target audience for a coming-of-age story of a teenager who only fancies men, so if that is you, I hope this rings much more true for you, but definitely don't go into this expecting a gay romance Toby, Alby, and Ben are all great characters that we don't get to see enough of. The only sexual experience with Ben gets yada yada'd "I mentioned the bisque", which, aside from two kisses, is the only physical romance we get. The relationship with Ben and where it leads is totally unresolved as is the potential for conflict and growth with the school's homophobic atmosphere and jocks. Bryce is brought up as a very interesting character who suffers from depression and is one of the few black students in a mostly-white school, yet he exeunts stage left very early and both his race and character are largely irrelevant to the remaining story aside from 2 short scenes which leaves a lot of room for narration, introspection, and conversation unfulfilled in my opinion. It's just odd that we spent the entire book talking about making space for and accepting people who don't fit into labels around cliques or sexuality so that they can feel like full human beings, but we couldn't find any space for the one black kid in junior year other than to use him as a plot device for our two white characters to forge a relationship over his exit now that his bed next to Ben is empty which gives us a chance to get closer to our love interest. It's like, we went out of our way with the Mr. Scarborough scene to point out how being the only black character in a school of whites would be isolating and contributing to his depression, but we still dumped the character unceremoniously just to give our romantic characters a chance to smooch In the positive things I have to say, the characters are written pretty much how I might expect sixteen year olds (I had to look this up because I had no idea how old juniors were as a Canadian, it's grade 11 fyi.) to act, however, there is a use of the R slur for neuroatypical people by one of the characters that was totally unnecessary imo, as well as several uses of the F slur (not the fuck word) so prospective viewers should be forewarned. I also think the narrator did a great job with voices differentiating the main characters (toby, alby, rafe) and I only had a few small instances where I had trouble discerning who was speaking because of terse back and forth dialogue Finally, when I came back to review this, I see this novel is part of a series but I must say that even though the book ended seemingly very abruptly I'm not interested in seeing how it progresses but I hope that Ben can find some support and found family in his journey, wherever it leads him.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Johnathan
  • 20-08-2017

Dissapointing

Don't buy this if you want a good story, much less a romantic story.

This book is little more than a vehicle for the author to express his opinions on how gay people should behave and feel about their own sexuality.

It's essentially the "if you're not flaming gay, you're really just repressed or self hating" argument stretched over way too many pages.

I felt betrayed when I realized this, having already become attached to the plot and characters, who were never really done justice as they were clearly playing second fiddle to the author's "message."

Only positive thing I can say is the narration was decent (but I don't want that to factor into my overall rating, lest I understate the disappointment this novel proved to me.)

100 people found this helpful

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  • Lionel
  • 02-10-2017

so much more than a coming out novel

I was not prepared for the questions this brought up. outstanding and unique perspective.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bosco
  • 25-06-2018

Not a Romance

I hated this book. It was not a romance. It was some sort of Bildungsroman with a very unsatisfying ending. I hated the main character, who was supposed to be somehow brave because he wanted to leave labels behind. I only saw him as a freaking coward. He supposedly wasn't in the closet, he just wasn't being open about who he was. But of course he lied repeatedly in the book, claiming to be straight. In the end, the whole thing was just horrible. Don't listen unless you like this sort of mind-freakery.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Emilio
  • 02-10-2017

Really good but...

The story was amazing but it feels like it's missing something. Unsure if I want to read the sequel but I will think about it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Roy Casstevens
  • 25-09-2017

Hated to have it end.

What did you love best about Openly Straight?

Mr. Konigsberg has a great style that make an audio book really easy to listen to. The story grabbed me right away to see if Rafe's experiment would work.

What other book might you compare Openly Straight to and why?

I love Haley Walsh's books. But really hard to make any kind of comparison.

Have you listened to any of Pete Cross’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

The is the first I've heard from Peter Cross. I found it well paced and he did a great job with voices for each of the characters.

Any additional comments?

I had hoped for a happier ending for Rafe and Ben. It kind of wrapped up quickly. I hope Mr. Konigsberg's next one take me where i'd like it to go. I'm hooked, though..

1 person found this helpful

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  • RLF
  • 24-09-2017

Great novel

This is a lovely, warm, moving, fun coming of age novel. If only real-life adults were as kind and open to learning about themselves as these complexly drawn main characters.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-2020

Extraordinarily frustrating and tedious.

This books becomes a privileged gay guy in an all boys school lying to everyone around him because he doesn't enjoy people bringing up his sexuality all the time. That as a premise isn't all that bad but 16 chapters in and still nothing of note has happened (other than him hugging a guy he clearly likes yet continues to lie to). Words cannot describe just how irritating the main character continues to be, its exhausting. Constantly moaning about having a supportive family and pretending that he isn't looking for a boyfriend before entirely abandoning that theory to say the only reason he ever came out was to get one. WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS BOOK THE FIRST 16 CHAPTERS ARE SO TEDIOUS. I genuinely feel like I am trapped in a mildly boring and frustrating dream where I zone out and suddenly come back in to focus to only think "huh he is still lying and the story hasn't progressed. Boy I sure am glad i'm still listening to this!". I have enjoyed other Konigsberg books, but god he really dropped the ball on this one.

3 people found this helpful

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  • GemBookEater
  • 26-04-2019

Warning. Listening in public made lead to being LookedAt!

This isn’t every modern gay experience by a long shot, but it doesn’t claim to be and thankfully there is now a lot more LGBT*Q+ stories and characters to offer more nuance. However, this is clever, funny, sad and eventually authentic. I laughed out loud several times while listening, and had to wipe away a tear or two too. Great dialogue, worth your time.

2 people found this helpful

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  • A. Listener
  • 12-03-2019

Loved this. Better than I had hoped for....

Loved this. Better than I had hoped for. The narrator does a great job, too.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jordan
  • 01-07-2020

Anticlimactic

Beautifully written but the story is lacking in fulfilment it leaves you hopeful that the characters will find the happy ever after/conclusion, there are many beautiful open ended stories I just don’t feel this one belongs in that category, I have this book in hardback and audible and to be honest it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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  • Kris Gielen
  • 04-12-2019

Amazing book, read in a very nice manner

I just finished this audiobook and I as blown away by it. The story is great, the buildup is very good and I really like how there's a kind of 'meta'-level with Rafe's writing assignments. I 'binge-listened' this book, it was really addictive. Highly recommended.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-11-2019

stunningly good

One of those books that you feel immensely grateful to have come across, whatever your age. I'm truly envious that modern youth have access to such a rich and expanding genre of which this book is a leading example. The audio performance was outstanding.

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  • Matthew Vallance
  • 09-10-2019

Spectacular

There was parts to laugh at and parts to cry at. An emotional, charming but most of all relatable story. Highly recommended!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 16-09-2019

First book that I have ever listened to

And it didnt dissapoint me! I was glad that the main caracter "Rafe" tought in many ways and made himself a better person. Many people can learn, or at least think, from this book.

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  • jtcoops
  • 27-06-2019

A worthy listen

Great narration and a good story from the outset. Often giving the listner something to think about all the main characters are believable and easy to like.

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  • Tom Sykora
  • 08-02-2019

Very real and honest story

I liked this book, relatable and so true..main man emotional struggle was like my own.