Will Grayson, Will Grayson is only my second run in with John Green and my first with David Levithan. I’ve been rec’d this book so many times that it’s shameful how long it has sat on my shelves neglected. To be honest, I’m trying to space my John Green reading experiences out a bit since I’ve heard he writes the exact same characters over and over again. He does them well, though, so I’m willing to overlook the redundancy.
In this particular story, Green and Levithan alternate chapters. Each author writes from the perspective of one Will Grayson – yes, there are two (hence the title). Basically, two high school students from the Chicagoland area meet randomly in a porn shop one night and discover they share the same name. Their lives become intertwined through their mutual friendship with Tiny Cooper, a very large and very gay teen writing a musical based on his life.
This novel was a decent YA read and probably on my top 5 favorite YA reads for 2012. I much preferred John Green’s Will Grayson which shocked me, especially considering the two characters are not wildly different. At times, the only way I could tell them apart was that Levithan chose to write in all lowercase. Levithan’s Will just was so dark, depressed, and hard to grasp as a well-rounded character. I do appreciate his look into a kid struggling with clinical depression, especially a young man. We don’t often get that perspective. Also, Levithan’s Will made me laugh out loud several times. Yay for the sarcasm!
What worked for Will Grayson, Will Grayson was, in fact, not a Will Grayson at all, but a Tiny Cooper. I loved Tiny’s character and all the ways he met and didn’t meet gay stereotypes. He shines throughout the entire novel, even in his cheesiest moment of triumph when his musical is finally staged. He was also a beacon of shining light, humor, and hope which added a much needed brightness to the seriously negative natures of the two Graysons.
As you might have expected from the simple summary, there isn’t much plot in this story. Definitely character driven which I find missing in YA literature in general. In that respect, Green and Levithan both exceed in transcending the genre and writing a book about the young human spirit and real life challenges young adults face day-in and day-out. They write characters that kids can see themselves in and can learn from. And we adults can learn to understand the teenagers of today and how better to communicate with them – and even our own young selves.
My only problem was the incredible silliness of the end. Not so much the musical itself, but the crowd’s reaction and the scheme Levithan’s Will Grayson manages to pull off. Way over the top and completely unbelievable which didn’t seem appropriate for a novel so grounded in reality and honesty. Not enough to dissuade me from liking the book overall, nor enough to keep me from recommending it to you fine folks!