Idgiepug’s #CBR4 Review #43: Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
As I continue making my way through the novels of John Green, it’s occurred to me that I don’t really have a favorite genre, expect maybe YA fantasy, but I have several favorite authors. I tend to get obsessed with an author, read everything he or she has written, and then flounder around for a few weeks or months until I find someone new. It means I don’t read as much variety as I should, but I also rarely get stuck with books I don’t like. So, my new John Green crush let me to the novel Will Grayson Will Grayson which Green co-wrote with David Levithan. The book is creatively written, darkly funny and deeply sad, and one of my favorite John Green novels so far.
The novel alternates between two teenaged boys named Will Grayson who live near Chicago. They take turns narrating chapters, and it’s easy to distinguish between the two because one Will Grayson capitalizes correctly and the other doesn’t capitalize anything. Caps Will, whose parts were authored by Green, is a fairly privileged straight kid whose best friend is a very large and very gay kid named Tiny. Tiny is constantly falling in love and getting his heart broken, and caps Will is always helping him pick up the pieces. Because of his own experiences and Tiny’s, caps Will has sworn off love, but he finds his resolve wavering as he spends more time with Jane, a fellow member of their school’s Gay Straight Alliance. Lowercase will lives with his single mother and has a best friend named Maura, but his relationship with Maura has suddenly and inexplicably become strained and difficult. Lowercase will retreats into a burgeoning online relationship with Isaac, a boy he’s never actually met. The stories come together when both Will Graysons find themselves in the same sex shop. Caps Will has been abandoned by Jane and Tiny because his fake ID didn’t quite work out as planned and made him only 18 instead of 21, and lowercase will was supposed to meet his online crush for the first time at the shop. From there, their stories continue to intertwine even though they tell them separately chapter by chapter.
In the hands of lesser writers, the novel’s dual narrator format might have interfered with the story or been just a cheap trick, but both of these authors are very good at writing stories about teenagers. The two Will Graysons are fully realized characters, and their stories work well told side-by-side this way. The end of the book gets a little crazy, especially as Tiny works to produce and direct his autobiographical musical Tiny Dancer, which is well received in a way that no gay-themed theater production would ever be received in a real high school, but the basic topics here – love, friendship, trust, betrayal, etc. – are skillfully written to be believable. This was a good book that continued my John Green love and inspired a mini-affair with David Levithan as well.