#WeHaveDiverseBooks: Discover "Honestly Ben" by Bill Konigsberg

Brooke Shearouse  //  Sep 20, 2017

#WeHaveDiverseBooks: Discover "Honestly Ben" by Bill Konigsberg

#WeHaveDiverseBooks: Discover is a spotlight on OOM dedicated to connecting readers with books written by distinct voices. We’ll take a look at the books that we can’t stop talking about— books that make us laugh and cry and think and feel, and see our world in new and interesting ways. Come join the conversation!


In Honestly Ben, a standalone companion to Openly Straight and the connector story, Openly, Honestly available exclusively in ebook format, Bill Konigsberg tells the story of a young boy figuring out himself and the world around him through the use of humor, tenderness, and a profound depth that draws you in and opens readers up to a world of heart (and a bit of heartbreak).

Ben Carver seems to have everything going for him. He’s won the Peter Pappas scholarship for all-around best student; been elected captain of his baseball team; and just met Hannah, an incredible girl who seems to like him back. Ben’s relieved because liking Hannah means that whatever happened last year with Rafe doesn’t mean he’s gay. He’s definitely straight. Not that he likes labels, but if he has to choose anything he’s just, “gay-for-Rafe.”

From the outside, it looks like everything’s going pretty well. But appearances can be deceiving, as Ben notes: “When you’re a big guy, people just assume you fit in. They assume you run things, that you’re in control, that you know what to do.”

Ben isn’t in control, and he’s definitely not sure what to do all the time. Hannah is refreshingly blunt—she says exactly what’s on her mind—but expects transparency in return, something Ben isn’t used to. Ben’s teammates make misogynistic jokes that go unchecked, but as team captain, calling them out might make them turn on him. And then there’s the problem with Peter Pappas—it’s possible the war hero the scholarship is named after may not have been honored in the way he would have wanted. How can Ben stay silent when there are so many things pulling him to speak up? And if Ben is straight then why does Rafe keep popping up in his thoughts?

Check back next week for a Q&A with Bill Konigsberg and a deeper dive into Honestly Ben.