Honestly Ben

Narrated by: Dan Bittner
Series: Openly Straight, Book 2
Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (650 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 listeners say about Honestly Ben

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

3 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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Honestly Boring

Felt like I was fooled into listening to 9 hrs of a Gender Studies essay, the word 'mysogyny' doesn't feel like a real word anymore (Drinking Game Alert: take a shot whenever that word is said. Warning: you'll get alcohol poisoning), the main character is the nice guy in a school full of jerks, his girlfriend is the nice girl in a school full of jerks, they are a perfect match and they have to constantly tell each other how quirky, nice AND DIFFERENT they are (the author probably thought they were writing a groundbreaking female character, but Hannah couldn't be more bland and predictable), they were so insufferable I wanted to commit a hate crime. I remember that I really liked Openly Straight, but now I'm not sure why. Rafe wasn't even much of a character in it, everybody was a walking stereotype with no depth, the thought process wasn't natural or realistic. Oh, did I mention? Ben was annoying, so freaking annoying. God. All the time I wanted him to get hit in the head and get a personality transplant or something. I couldn't care less if I tried, I'm glad I didn't pay for it.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Disappointed :-(

Unfortunately this 2nd entry didn't seem as good as the 1st :( It fell flat for me. The plot and pacing could have been better. I was expecting more from Ben when it came to him trying to figure out his bisexuality. Even Ben's relationship to Rafe seemed less impactful/powerful than the previous book. It was a decent book but didn't enjoy it as much as the 1st. Ben just seemed less likable than Rafe. The ending was decent, though

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting Viewpoint

This was an interesting book to read as a bi person. There's a comment that is clearly bi-erasure that does kind of get dealt with later on, though not to my liking honestly. And overall Ben doesn't really decide he's bi. He just thinks he's straight and likes one guy - which I get, there's a spectrum. It just wasn't as satisfying as a firm decision, which I am sure was the point of the book. It was definitely different from the original book. Though just as in that book, I felt for these characters: I worried about their mental health and I cared what happened to them. It was not what I was expecting based on the first book, but the book itself was good.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Should be on all school curriculums.

Wow, Ben is more self-aware at 16 then I am at 50somethingish. What a great book. I think it should be on all school curriculums. If for no other reason than to give them ideas of some of the questions they could be asking themselves. The expectations might be a bit high though, not everyone can be Mr. Magenta (you'll have to read it to find out). This is a continuation of Rafe's and Ben's relationship and the major growth that Ben must go through to get there. High prices to pay for a huge realization. I found myself envying Ben for figuring things out at such a young age. Perhaps if we all went through that at a younger age so many of us wouldn't be still trying to figure out who we are. This story is very well done. The characters are well fleshed out and each unique in their own way. The discrepency between the idealism of youth and the mindset and generational differences of, ahem, older folk and teens are portrayed through several of Ben's relationships. The behaviours and dialogue were consistent. The pace and flow of the story are perfect. It would have been so easy to become as confused as Ben if the story wasn't laid out the way it was. I can't speak to the editing because I listened to this book. I wish I had read this with a book buddy because there are so many things I would love to discuss with someone else. This story was narrated by Dan Bittner, who did an excellent job in portraying Ben's confusion and his process of discovery. I had no difficulty in identifying who each character was even between the female cast which is rare.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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 :)

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • R. Bourke
  • 05-23-20

I LOVE THIS

just completely incredible. I love Bill Konigsberg. the writing and dialogue is just supreme.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-19

An eye opening read and a fantastic sequel.

Could even be appreciated as a stand-alone novel which is a lesson to learn for sequels in general, to be able to stand on its own story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-19

let down from the first book

I loved the first one so much, that anything less than perfection would be magnified. The reader didn't stack up to the first books reader either. some pronunciations were off and some voices were changed entirely (Alby, Steve). still worth the listen if you've read the first.

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  • Yashes
  • 06-20-19

YES YES YES!

I was worried going into this because of some other reviews and after my love for the first book. However, from now on I'm going to judge books for myself, and for me, this was perfect, it was... Honestly Ben. 💖

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  • jtcoops
  • 05-20-19

Not as good as it could have been

Openly Straight was really well written and engaging throughout so I bought this follow up without auditioning it first. That may have been a mistake. This feels much more like a first attempt at a novel than a follow up. The narrative wanders at times and loses focus. There are however some touching moments and some good thought provoking scenes but it's just not as polished as Openly Straight which is shame.

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  • leftie
  • 09-07-18

Excellent book

Thoroughly enjoyable book, easy to follow and hard to stop listening. Particularly good listening to it following the prequel.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Conor Jackson
  • 09-01-18

Fantastic sequel, minor continuity issue

The moment I finished the previous book (Openly Straight), I knew I wanted to start listening to this one. The characters come alive once more, with Ben’s POV being a refreshing change. The only issue was with the voice actor - while of course it can’t be helped that a different voice actor, there appears to be little attempt at maintaining continuity with many of the characters sounding very different. Despite this I strongly recommend that people who read and loved Openly Straight read this book too.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-21-18

absolutely wonderful

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

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rhys Bevan
  • 03-22-19

Inspiring

this book inspired me to to come out as gay to my dad. It was so helpful to me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-11-17

Awesome and spot on!

Would you consider the audio edition of Honestly Ben to be better than the print version?

There were parts of the book where the audio version emmited phrases more clearly than the book version did, this worked well with jokes, sarcasm and emphasizing phrases. But overall, the audio version was pretty much on par with the printed version; both were amazing.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is Ben Carver, I love him.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The bathroom part where Ben admits to Rafe that he loves him. Pretty much my favorite moment.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, this book is very humorous and had made me almost die in giggles of laughter. There were also some deep moments that kinda made me sad but more so, it was from the aftermath of openly straight and openly honestly.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • UniCatering
  • 01-13-20

Average, with a few standouts

Put off finishing this book for a while, as it didn't have the same feel as the first. Overall, was nice to listen to, but some parts of the story just felt really off.

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  • Alan
  • 12-28-19

Moving sequel to Openly Straight!

I had to think about why I didn’t enjoy this quite as much as the first book, Openly Straight. Maybe just too much of a good thing as I listened to them back to back, maybe the identity struggle was tougher as a straight guy comes to terms with his feelings for another guy. It contained the same great characters but was told from Ben’s POV, rather than Rafe’s. Ben is a quiet complex character who has a good moral compass but has to unpick the toxic messages about manhood that his father has always said and modelled. Moving!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-27-19

Exceptional!

I loved this so much, the story, the narration, both incredible. I love the way bill Konigsberg writes in such a way I'm constantly surprised at the funny moments amongst the serious and sentimental, I found myself having constant bursts of laughter when least expected. Also a great sequel to Openly Straight, I really loved the insight into Ben's mind and how it really made me think about things such as privilege, vulnerability and the impact of toxic masculinity (just to name a few). It really was an overall great listen and I would highly recommend.

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  • Joshua
  • 07-06-18

Beautiful Book

I hope some young people struggling with their sexuality pick up this book. I also hope people not struggling with their sexuality (heterosexuals included) read this book.