Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan and John Green

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: David Levithan and John Green
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is literally about two guys named Will Grayson whose lives intersect one day and calamity ensues. I could leave it at that, or just say, "John Green wrote this so read it!" but given this is a book review you probably want to know more.

The first Will Grayson attends school in affluent Evanston, IL, just north of Chicago. He used to be with the in-crowd until he wrote an editorial to the paper to defend a gay classmate; his perceived mistake being that he signed his name instead of remaining anonymous. Now, his only friend consists of said gay classmate - Tiny - a 6 and half foot tall lumbering jock who sings constantly and has a new crush every week. Will meets a few other friends from the Gay Straight Alliance, including Jane, who he thinks he might like, kinda sorta, maybe but not really. The second Will Grayson is even more ostracised; he's a depressed loner who also lives in a fairly affluent Chicago suburb (Naperville - the next city over from me), but his single mom barely scrapes by. He hates everyone including himself. His only solace is an online relationship with Isaac, who he's never met. He's Will's only real friend besides a sarcastic goth girl from school. Isaac is his secret.

Each chapter alternates between the Wills. It's not until a third of the way in that the two cross paths. Evanston Will can't get into a concert with his friends (he tries a fake ID which says he's 20, not 21) so he wanders the shops across the street, while Naperville Will drives to Chicago to meet Isaac in the same area. The meeting with Isaac does not go as planned, and the Wills encounter each other in a very confusing exchange - if you can only imagine meeting someone randomly with your same name. Each of them come to believe their meeting was somehow fated, and the two become unlikely allies.

Of course Tiny involves himself in both Wills' relationship issues. Tiny wants to fix everyone, like it's his mission. His hopeful nature is encouraging even though Tiny has issues to work through himself. All of the relationships evolve in unexpected ways, down to the kids and their parents, which feels refreshingly realistic.

Tiny's other passion, besides fixing people, is a musical written and directed by himself about himself. At first it's the life story of Tiny Cooper, until he realizes it needs a more outward focus. He then changes it to Hold Me Closer (Tiny Cooper - a play on the song Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer)- a musical about love. The songs are hilarious but the story itself is rather sentimental. Evanston Will Grayson is convinced it will fail, and tries to protect Tiny from the scathing judgement of students at school. But Tiny isn't one to be held back. The transformation of Tiny's dream into a real stage production feels like rooting for the underdog with a satisfying conclusion.

This book takes a genuine look at how complex relationships are without sacrificing enjoyable storytelling. There are so many great lines and the sentiment behind it is even better. It's one of my favorite reads of 2011.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to have to read this book! My 'to read' list is getting so long! lol


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