Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green & David Levithan
Dutton Books
April 2010


Will Grayson, Will Grayson, is the story of two guys named Will Grayson who meet unexpectedly in porn store in downtown Chicago. Will Grayson #1 is waiting for a friend and sorta-maybe girlfriend who have gone to a 21+ concert without him (he has a terrible fake ID). Will Grayson #2 (or lowercase will) is supposed to be meeting Isaac, his online friend-and-hopefully-more. The night doesn’t go as expected for either of them, but their lives collide all, and the unexpected results might be better than the ones they’d hoped for. The story is told in alternating chapters, with the Will Grayson chapters written by John Green and the will grayson chapters by David Levithan.

So I just gave you a whole plot synopsis without mentioning the real star of the book, Tiny Cooper. Tiny is “not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” Tiny is a force of nature, and he’s the glue that binds the two Will Graysons, and a host of other characters, together. He’s the best friend of Will, and a love interest for will, and it’s Tiny who gets to deliver the “message” of the book.

Voice is everything to this book, and luckily for us, Green and Levithan are masters of creating voice. Will is a pretty typical Green protagonist: he sees himself as just on the outside, not quite fitting in. He’s got the sort of indie cool that would have impressed me in high school (he listens to Neutral Milk Hotel and wears Chuck Taylors), but he’s also a little neurotic and self-involved. will is a clinical-depressed (and can I just say how much I loved Levithan’s portrayal of depression? it’s really thoughtful, and it made me want to hug will grayson and smack him at the same time) loner who’s also a little self-involved.

I love that this book touches on so many “issues” – homosexuality, depression, toxic friendships – without every being after-school special-y. It’s really a book about growing up, and how appreciating the people in our lives, even (and especially) when they’re driving us crrrrrazy. I’m like, nine months late to the party on this book, y’all, but it is great, great, great, and if you like John Green, or David Levithan, or books about the awkwardness and wonder of being 17, you should definitely read it.

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