Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Author(s): John Green, David Levithan
Publisher: Dutton Books
Publication Date: April 2010
Genre(s): Young adult, Realistic fiction, Humor, LGBT
When I was little, my dad used to tell me, “Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”
Will Grayson has two rules that he follows to keep his life simple: 1. Don’t care too much. 2. Shut up. So that’s how he makes it through high school, by not caring and not getting involved — that is, until he meets Will Grayson. During a chance meeting in Chicago, Will Grayson meets another high schooler named Will Grayson, who he often refers to as o.w.g. (other Will Grayson). During this meeting, he discovers o.w.g. has just had the worst night of his life. He introduces o.w.g. to Tiny Cooper, his largest, gayest best friend who is trying to put on a large, gay musical at their high school. While Tiny and o.w.g. hit it off, Will starts to fall for someone as well, and he begins to realize that his two rules may not actually save him, but hinder him.
This is my second time reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and I enjoyed it just as much now as I did when I first read it. My first thought upon reading this book the first time was, What a cool scenario! I mean, think about it, meeting someone in a huge city with the exact same name as you. For me, that wouldn’t be too weird — Smith is a common last name, and though Alyssa is a little less common of a first name, it’s still not too “out there.” Still, the concept is cool, and I was instantly hooked. In my YA Lit. class that we’re studying this in, a lot of people have complained that the novel (and all of John Green’s novels) don’t have much in the way of plot. They say he focuses more on themes and issues rather than a solid plot. I disagree. I mean, yes, it’s hard to summarize the plot of this novel, other than saying, “Will Grayson meets Will Grayson and events ensue.” That’s pretty boring and vague. This isn’t a boring story! It’s great! I like John Green novels because you can’t really summarize it in a paragraph — you just have to read it. The story is told in alternating chapters, one written by John Green about Will Grayson, and the other written by David Levithan about o.w.g. It’s really clever, honestly. Will Grayson’s chapters use perfect grammar, whereas o.w.g. chapters are typed using all lowercase letters, and his dialogue looks like IM chats:
mom: how was your day?
me: mom, i’m watching tv.
mom: will you be ready for dinner in fifteen minutes?
me: mom, i’m watching tv!
It’s a little disorienting, being such a stickler for grammar, to read everything in lowercase letters, but it helps with knowing which Will Grayson we’re reading about.
When I first read this years ago, o.w.g. was my favorite character. I related to him with all my heart. His first line in the novel is, “i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me.” Yeah, I was kind of an emo teenager. You can see why I loved o.w.g. so much. During my second reading, I really loved Will Grayson’s chapters and character a lot more. I related to him more, as well. That’s why I like reading books a second, third, forth time — it’s a different experience each time. Like I said, John Green deals a lot with themes and issues. Will Grayson is a very likable character — sarcastic, funny, smart, and kind of an asshole sometimes. He struggles throughout the novel with friendship, relationships, and whether or not he should allow himself to care. o.w.g. is less of a likable character. He hates his life, his school, and he doesn’t really have many friends. He struggles with the relationship between his mom and his friends, as well as his depression and his sexuality. Both boys are interesting to read about. Tiny Cooper often steals the show, though, because he is hilarious, confident, endearing, and so very gay. He is fabulous and he knows it. I heard David Levithan published a “companion novel” about Tiny Cooper last year called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. Apparently, it’s the full-script of the play in Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll let you know if I do.
As always, John Green’s writing is fabulous, flawless, and hilarious. I love the way he writes so that anyone can read and understand it, yet at the same time his writing seems so intellectual and witty. I love it. John Green is one of my favorite contemporary authors and even after the second reading, I love his contribution to Will Grayson. David Levithan is also one of my favorite contemporary writers, though I don’t think he’s as talented as John Green. I think the two created a beautiful novel, but John Green’s chapters were significantly better. I also liked his character more than Levithan’s. I do love Levithan, though, and if you haven’t read his novel Every Day, please do so immediately.
My Rating (for both the first reading and second reading)
Favorite Quote(s): “Tomorrow makes everything a little better.”
“i close my eyes. and i scream. if my whole world is going to crash down around me, then i am going to make the sound of the crashing. i want to scream until all my bones break.”
“Not that smart. Not that hot. Not that nice. Not that funny. That’s me: I’m not that.”
“I think about how much depends upon a best friend. When you wake up in the morning you swing your legs out of bed and you put your feet on the ground and you stand up. You don’t scoot to the edge of the bed and look down to make sure the floor is there. The floor is always there. Until it’s not.”