When I sat down to read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan, I had no idea what the book was about. All I knew was that for whatever reason, a lot of people seemed to like it, and now I know why. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is at once smart, witty, and emotional, with probably the best voice that I’ve read in a long time. I got ahold of this book by way of my local public library, but I’m tempted to buy it or, remarkably, take the time to write down some of its zingers so I can continue to laugh at them for months to come. Seriously, how can you read ‘My search party is creeping into your no man’s land,’ and not at least crack a smile? It cannot be done.
This novel is the story of two teenage boys living in suburban Chicago who share the same first and last name. Due to a stunning coincidence one rainy night, the two of them bump into each other at an adult sex shop (no, I’m not kidding) and strike up an honest conversation on the sidewalk outside that leads to something bigger than either of them can comprehend.
One thing I love about this book in particular is its inclusion of the LGBT community. Will Grayson’s best friend (honestly I have no clue how to differentiate in a review which Will I’m talking about, so I’ll just call this particular Grayson Will #1), Tiny Cooper, is about as big and fabulously gay as they come, and often drags Will #1 along for his Gay Straight Alliance meetings. Will #2 just happens to be gay as well (though not nearly as fabulous about it). The focus on homosexuality in this book is significant, but not overtly so. Never did I get the feeling that Green or Levithan was trying to be overly politically correct or offensive – the tone surrounding it was very easygoing. Yes, Tiny Cooper is very gay, but the writing makes him and other homosexuals out as ‘guys that happen to be gay’ instead of ‘those flighty fairies.’ This is the first YA book I’ve read where LGBT teens take center stage, so that’s nice to see.
If I had finished this review immediately upon finishing the book, the star rating would have been a bit higher. A few weeks later, some of the plot points and characterizations in the novel seem…for lack of a better word, schmultzy. For example, Tiny’s play. What person is so full of himself to write a play entirely about his own love life? What’s more, who is so full of himself to write a play entirely about his own love life…and then present it to the school board as something everyone would want to see? I mean seriously, Tiny names one of his characters Gill Wrayson. I get that in the end it’s supposed to be about love and tolerance and all that, but if I saw that poster in my high school hallway, I’d be just as incredulous as I am now. The narration began to lose me in the second half, as well – I felt Green and Levithan were trying to sneak in way more introspection and philosophical musings than would be normal for a group of teenagers. Still, you gotta love when guys share man hugs and cry.
Sydnee is a freshman at Wayne State University pursuing a degree in Journalism. Her hobbies include painting and taking long afternoon naps. She is obsessed with hunky heroes, explosions, melodrama, and magic—all things that make a frequent appearance in her stories. Her blog is http://syd-dreams.blogspot.com.