Here it is! Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I purchased it back in 2011 and suddenly it’s 2014. How did that happen?! You may be wondering why it took me an inordinate amount of time to pick it up. Well, I was sort of savouring it. It was the only book by John Green that I had yet to read (unless you count Zombiecorns). I was originally going to wait until his upcoming book was almost published, but ain’t no one got time for that. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is also my third David Levithan novel, after previously reading and thoroughly enjoying Every Day and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. And like most John Green and David Levithan novels, it’s a powerful, poignant, purely character-driven, coming-of-age story.
On one side of Chicago, Illinois we have Tiny’s Will Grayson, who’s purposely reserved and unpopular (his motto is ‘don’t care too much’ and ‘shut up’), yet that doesn’t stop larger than life (almost literally!), loud and openly gay Tiny Cooper from taking him under his wing as an esteemed member of the Gay-Straight Alliance. But Tiny Cooper’s main purpose in his high school career – aside from constantly finding ‘the one’ – is to write, direct, design and produce his own musical. Will is so used to Tiny’s antics that he’s (almost) happy to go along with him most of the time, as long as he doesn’t have to get too involved. But both boys are unprepared when Other Will Grayson unexpectedly finds his way into their lives – and in extremely unfortunate circumstances. I have to admit, I judged Other Will Grayson before we truly got to know him. On Goodreads, while I was reading, I said “David Levithan’s Will Grayson is mean!”. But he does grow on you. OWG’s deeply unhappy and deeply unhappy people can sometimes be unfair and angry and impatient, so I didn’t think much of him at first, but as soon as his world is turned upside down, I was on his side.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is… utter… insanity. It’s at once a colourful, bouncing, loud and charming story that can suddenly turn dark, angsty and awkward, as teenage lives often do. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is home to a whole cast of characters that are just trying to understand what they should live for. We all know that life as a teenager can feel like the whole world, from watching a friend go through a terrible breakup to experiencing another friend’s shocking betrayal, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson does not turn on these teenagers and preach that they are going through silly little experiences that are of little consequence. It acknowledges that these painful experiences do shape you – and not always for the best – and that even happy people have their unhappy secrets. It’s perceived by some people that those who read young adult literature do so because they have a deep longing to relive their teenage years, but Will Grayson, Will Grayson made me thankful that I never have to do that again! It’s not exactly a piece of cake make friends – and stay friends – with the people you see day after day, often for years. We go the through trails and tribulations of dedicated Tiny Cooper, surprisingly stealthy Jane Turner, and of course Tiny’s Will Grayson and Other Will Grayson, as they use music to define themselves and get in a little bit of trouble now and again… And have parents that aren’t utterly useless – or absent.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is hilarious, touching – and occasionally incredibly difficult to read. It will make you want to watch the Pride and Prejudice miniseries – or maybe that’s just me – and it’ll remind you never to use chat rooms, that young adult literature can be utterly filthy, and that that’s not going to stop us reading it anyway.
“When things break, it’s not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It’s because a little piece gets lost – the two remaining ends couldn’t fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”
Published: 6th April 2010 (US) 10th May 2012 (UK)
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile/Speak (US) Puffin Books (UK)