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Thoughts on “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan

After reading Jodi’s review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levitham over on Minnesota Reads, I requested the book from my library. I was far too curious not to.

About the Book:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (cover)Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told in alternating chapters by two teenage guys, both named, well, Will Grayson. Both live near Chicago; both are in high school (though not the same one). The first Will Grayson is having girl trouble, trying to figure out how he feels about his friend Jane. His best friend, the enormous and very gay football star Tiny Cooper, keeps trying to help but ends up making Will feel worse. The other Will Grayson is having a different kind of girl trouble: his friend Maura wants to be more than friends, though secretly Will is head-over-heels for Isaac, the guy he met online. He hasn’t come out to anyone yet, though Maura seems to suspect something might be up.

The two Will Graysons continue along their parallel tracks, each unaware of the other’s existence. Then, one cold night, the two happen to be in the same bizarre place in Chicago at the same time. Suddenly, their worlds fuse, held together by Tiny Cooper, who ends up with one foot planted in each.

My Thoughts:

Every once in a while I read a book that I really like, but for reasons I can’t explain. Every spare moment I had, I found myself picking up Will Grayson, Will Grayson; I finished it in two days. Yet I can’t put my finger on what made me like it so much. The characters are interesting (especially Tiny), the story is good, the writing is sharp and clever. None of these elements, however, stands out to me as being extraordinary. Rather, I think Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one of those novels where the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

I won’t deny that the book got a little angst-y at times. It never bothered me, but perhaps my teen angst tolerance threshold is rather high. The characters all face teenage problems, yet I thought that, by the end, at least, they’d learned to face these problems in rather mature ways. Pretty much the whole cast ends the novel in a different place than they started, and I had no problem believing their progress.

Something I have left out thus far: Tiny has written a musical about his life, which starts out with the title Tiny Dancer. Maybe it’s because I was part of the drama world in high school, but I loved this aspect of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Tiny’s lyrics cracked me up, and I could identify with every step of the dramatic production process. It was fun to revisit that particular slice of high school.

My only complaint was that, for the first half of the book, I found it a bit hard to keep the Will Graysons straight. Though one uses proper capitalization and the other uses none, they have similar styles. The Will Grayson with the internet boyfriend was a bit mopier, I suppose. They also both have small groups of guy friends, who I kept getting confused. This complaint is definitely a minor one.

I absolutely enjoyed Will Grayson, Will Grayson, even though I can’t point to what, exactly, made me like it so darn much. I get the feeling it’s one of those novels you either really like or find annoying. I’m firmly in the former camp.

Your Turn!

If you’ve read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, what did you think? Have you ever read a novel that you really liked, even though you can’t explain exactly why?

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  • http://zenleaf.amandagignac.com Amanda

    I read this back in the spring and really enjoyed it, though I thought it was about one chapter too short. I would have preferred to get an ending for the two WGs and not just Tiny.

    • Erin

      Yes, I’d agree with that. The story’s focus kind of shifted onto Tiny towards the end, and the Will Graysons never really got their resolutions.

  • http://EmmaMichaels.Blogspot.com Emma Michaels
    • Erin

      Thanks, Emma!

  • http://eatthebooks.wordpress.com Bookeater

    I’ve never heard of this book but then again I’m not too familiar with YA fiction. Your review intrigues me. I’m going to check it out!

    • Erin

      Definitely worth reading. I’m often wary of YA, especially contemporary YA, but this one was quite enjoyable. I hope you like it!

  • http://loveyalit.com Em (Love YA Lit)

    I can’t wait to read this one! I’m hoping to find it in my stocking this year!

    • Erin

      Ooh, that would be a nice surprise! The cover even kind of looks Christmas-y :-)

  • http://www.lovelaughterinsanity.com Trish

    You know, I don’t think you necessarily have to be able to pinpoint something in a book–I think the best books are the ones where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I don’t think I loved this one quite as much as you did, but I enjoyed it. The mopey WG really bothered me–I guess that teenaged angst stuff. And I can’t trying to figure out who was writing what (having read John Green but not David Levithan). I can’t wait to read more by both authors and I’d read this one again. Isn’t Tiny and his play fantastic? Love it!

    • Erin

      That’s a good point–I guess having one feature that sticks out as being excellent isn’t necessary! I guess what surprised me was that, when I looked at each element of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, I wasn’t especially blown away by any of them. And yet I really enjoyed the book.

      Mopey WG was definitely angsty. I’m really not sure why it didn’t bother me much! I think maybe the story pulled me through, even if his narration was kind of…well…angst-ridden. This was the first by either John Green or David Levithan I’ve read, and I’d definitely read more from either!

      And yes–Tiny’s play was AMAZING. I wish it was real so I could go see it!