Saturday, March 19, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by David Levithan and John Green

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan. New York : Dutton, 2010. 310 pp. ISBN 9780525421580

Two teens named Will Grayson meet by pure coicidence in downtown Chicago one night, and their lives are forever changed...

Realistic Fiction

This novel is narrated in alternating chapters by two high school students who meet by chance one night in downtown Chicago -- both are named Will Grayson.  The "Original Will Grayson" (OWG) and Tiny Cooper have been best friends since fifth grade, but OWG is starting to become slightly irritated with what he considers to be Tiny's selfishness.  Tiny, who is gay, has been through numerous romantic break-ups and OWG has always been there to help pick up the pieces.  Even though Tiny has now decided to play matchmaker for OWG, OWG at first doesn't see the generosity of this act, because he is too blinded by his fear of getting close to girls and potentially getting hurt.  Once the two Will Graysons meet, Will #2 begins dating Tiny.  Will #2, however, has not told his mother or anyone else that he's gay.  Meanwhile, OWG decides to step out of his comfort zone and give dating another chance.  As a backdrop to -- and also representative of -- all of this, Tiny is writing a musical about life and love, to be performed at the high school.

This is the first novel I’ve read of either Levithan or Green, but if this novel is any indication of the general level of fun and insight of their writing, I can’t wait to read more!  I found the two Will Graysons to be very believable and representative of many teens, as we are privy to their self-doubt and conflicting emotions.  It is true that Tiny Cooper is a larger-than-life character in more than just his size, yet there really are teens with that kind of self-confidence and drive, and his character is also necessary to our understanding of OWG, the friendship between the two of them, and to keeping the plot moving in several instances. And Tiny is just too hysterically funny too resist.  Overall, this novel is highly entertaining and contains a lot of sage advice to teens, and all of us really, regarding navigating interpersonal relationships.  These lessons about friendship and love, and the complexity yet necessity of both, are interwoven into the story naturally, as characters come to realize them themselves.  I highly recommend this gem of a book to anyone.

I think that this book would be very helpful to teens who are questioning their sexual orientation or are aware that they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual and are thinking of letting their family and friends know.  I think this book would also help teens who are experiencing depression.

I love anything involving unbelievable coincidences, and the high school musical aspect and the Tiny Cooper character both sounded really fun.

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