Books & Literature

Book Review: Answers in the Pages, by David Levithan

YOUNG ADULT: Bestselling author David Levithan delivers a bold, fun story about taking action (whether it’s against book censors or killer alligators), being brave (in love and in adventure) and standing up for what’s right, no matter the circumstances.

A lovely story of boy meets boy with a satisfying surprise ending.

CW: Mention of homophobia

David Levithan is an American YA fiction author. He has been very successful writing stories with strong gay male characters and he has won several awards. His most noted works are Boy Meets Boy and Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List.

Answers in the Pages is really three stories in one. But it is mostly about a boy called Donovan who leaves his latest class novel on the kitchen bench. His mum picks it up, reads the last few pages (as she usually does when reading a book), and decides it is not suitable for her son or his fifth grade class mates. And so, she sets about getting the book banned from the school. Donovan’s teacher Mr Howe is saddened that the book has caused an uproar amongst some of the parents, but he handles the matter sensitively with his students.

The three storylines eventually become one in a satisfying and tear-jerking finale. Swapping between the three stories was, however, confusing for much of the book, particularly as two of them seemed very much the same.  I found myself going back and forth to make sure I was following the correct one. This sometimes took me out of the story and I felt I had to play catch up in my mind when the story was later continued. Younger readers who are used to many different plot lines might find this easier to navigate. There are chapter headings to help, but they also took a little while to understand.

Throughout the book, the topic of censorship and homophobia is handled well. It talks about who decides what is appropriate and how this can be openly discussed.

In a time when marginalised people are fighting for their rights and books are being banned, America is struggling. Answers in the Pages tells us that there needs to be open and honest discussions without anger. We should of course be able to challenge school content but we need to go through the correct channels.

The children also have to deal with the views of their parents. And as such, this is a book which could and maybe should be read by parents. It tells us that they can be irrational and even wrong, but still love you. All you need is an open channel of communication. And of course, children understand more than their parents think they do in this rapidly changing world. Children are also often able to talk rationally about how they feel and this should not be underestimated.

The two stories set in the schools were heartfelt. One boy’s love of turtles is endearing. At the end of the book, when all is made clear, (please don’t cheat and look!) the main characters spoke from the heart about how they felt. It was a very moving ending.  

There are many wonderful lines in this story:

My parents say that telling someone who you really are is a gift you give to them, not something you owe them.


All human beings should be treated with respect. A person’s humanity should never be a matter of debate.

At only 163 pages, Answers in the Pages is an easy read, suitable for young adults and middle years. It mostly teaches us that we need to stand up for what we believe to be right, but always in a respectful way.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not necessarily of Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Text Publishing
Released: August 2022

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