Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Green, John and David Levithan (2010).  Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Dutton Children’s. will grayson, will grayson ISBN: 9780525421580.  310 pages.  $17.99.

Author Website:

Green – http://johngreenbooks.com/

Levithan – http://www.davidlevithan.com/

Readers Annotation: Two boys, both named Will Grayson, from Chicago suburbs meet by chance one night in Chicago and soon play large parts in each other’s lives.

Summary: Will Grayson is your average high school guy.  He is one of those guys who everyone knows but really isn’t friends with a lot of people.  Although, it’s hard to blend in when your best friend, Tiny Cooper, is the star of the football team and incredibly out of the closet.  Tiny doesn’t blend in, he grasps the attention of all.  One way Tiny plans to stay in the limelight is with the musical he is writing about his life called Tiny Dancer: The Tiny Cooper Story which he hopes to get the Gay/Straight Alliance to perform.  One night Will attempts to go to an underground show downtown.  He was supposed to get into the club with his new fake ID, which his friend Jane helped him get.  At the door, Will is told that he can’t go inside because his ID says he’s 20, not 21.  Instead of stopping his friends from enjoying the show, Will heads across the street to a porn store so that he can at least use his ID for something.

The other Will Grayson is also not one for being in the center of attention.  Will is pretty sure that he’s gay, but he’s not ready to share the news with others.  The only person that knows his true feelings is his Internet friend, Isaac, who lives in another state.  Will believes that Isaac may be the love he was waiting for.  Finally the stars align for Will when Isaac tells him that he is going to be visiting Chicago and they should meet up.  Will can’t wait to meet Isaac, but when he gets to the location Isaac tells him about, he realizes that it is a porn store.  At first Will isn’t ready to believe that the whole situation was a set up.  Instead of leaving, Will goes inside to see if he’s in the store.  What he did not expect to find was a guy with his same name.

The two Will Graysons begin talking and soon there worlds turn from separate to merged when the Other Will Grayson and Tiny begin to hit it off.  Is there room in their world for two Will Graysons?

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

Interest Level: Grades 9 and up

Review and Evaluation: Both Green and Levithan are fabulous writers with large fan groups.  I have to say that Will Grayson, Will Grayson is my favorite book by either of the authors.  The duo write in a true voice that make you want to find jump right into this world and hang out with the characters.  I know I’ve said the same thing about other characters in both Green’s and Levithan’s books.  I think that is one of the best things about these authors.  They don’t just create characters, they create people.  They take on a reality that makes the reader forget that they are just people on a page.  This is such a great thing for teens.  So often teens are presented with very two-dimensional characters that they must take on faith in order to get through a book.  Green and Levithan do not take shortcuts when they create in the smallest character.

If I had to have an issue with this book, it’s Levithan’s Will.  It’s not so much a complaint because I understand why he did what he did.  Will is very unlikeable in the beginning of the book.  He’s whiny and difficult to read about because you begin not to care.  However, I think that was the point Levithan was trying to achieve.  It’s not until Will embraces who he is and stops trying to hide from everyone, including his best friend Maura, that he begins to be more fun and the reader wants to develop a relationship with him.  Levithan didn’t want the reader to like Will initially because he didn’t like himself.  The reader grows to like Will just as he does from experience to experience.

On the other side of the spectrum, Green gives us Tiny Cooper.  Tiny couldn’t be more outgoing if Green tried.  Tiny appears to be overcompensating for the fact that he is in the eye of the school body being gay and a football star.  Instead of allowing people to make judges about him, Tiny reveals everything.  He is not afraid to be the talk of the school.  He jumps from guy to guy which perpetuates the rumors, but then he is fueling them himself.  It is the juxtaposition of these two different personalities that make the Other Will Grayson and Tiny an interesting couple.

Subjects/Genres: Coming of Age, GLBTQ, Humor, Realistic Fiction, Romance

Bibliotherapeutic Uses: I would definitely recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson for teens who are trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in life.  There are several characters in this book that exhibit growth in some way.

Controversial Issues:

Homosexuality – Characters in this book are gay which some people oppose.

  • Defense – If you do not want to read about homosexuality, don’t read this book.  However, it should still be available for other people.

Language – The book is full of offensive language.

  • The language reflects the way that teens talk today.

Mature situations – The book includes mature situations including underage drinking, using fake IDs to get into 21 and older clubs, and pornography stores.

  • The book is not encouraging these things but they are important to the story.

Booktalk Ideas:

Imagine you had a name twin.  What do you think he/she would be like?

Tiny Cooper named his memoir muscial, “Tiny Dancer: The Tiny Cooper Story.”  What would you name your musical?

Awards and Booklists:

  • YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, 2011
  • Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel, 2010
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction, 2010
  • Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee, 2013
  • Stonewall Award Honor Book, 2011

Readalikes:

  • Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
  • My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger
  • The Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
  • Dramarama by E. Lockhart
  • Notes from the Blender by Trish Cook

Professional Reviews:

Peters, J. (2010).  Will Grayson, Will Grayson (book review).  Booklist, 106 (9), 82.

Staff reviewer (2010).  Will Grayson, Will Grayson (book review).  Kirkus, 1 April 2010.

Staff reviewer (2010).  Will Grayson, Will Grayson (book review).  Publishers Weekly, 257 (9), 54.

Why I Chose this Book:  I am a huge John Green fan so it was no question that I had to read this book.  I read it before when it first came out, but I listened to it on audio this time and it was just as good.

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