Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
By John Green and David Levithan
Dutton Children's, 2009
Reviewed from e-book
Audience: Grades 10 and up
ISBN:  9780525421580
Publication Date:  April 6, 2009

Have you ever met someone with your name?  Then imagine that person becomes a figure in your life, in a small, but ultimately lasting way.  That's Will Grayson's story.  There's Original Will Grayson, a straight, high school student from Evanston whose best friend is the sarcastically named Tiny Cooper.  The Other Will Grayson is a gay, depressed high school student from Naperville who is in love with a boy named Isaac that he met online.  All things come together outside a concert in Chicago when the two Will Graysons meet--Original Will can't get into the venue because his fake I.D. is one month shy of 21, and Other Will is in the city to meet Isaac who, it turns out, does not exist (sidebar-way to go Green and Levithan for catching on to catfishing before it was a thing).  Original Will introduces Other Will to Tiny and love it in the air.  Now, Other Will is trying to contain the uncontainable force that is Tiny Cooper, Original Will is trying to woo the seemingly unwoo-able Jane, and Tiny is writing, producing and starring in an original play based on this life called Tiny Dancer.  What could be a mishmash of high school drama becomes a hearty book about love, friendship, and telling people how you feel.  

I've been wanting to read this book for quite a while, mostly for David Levithan, who I adore.  But I've been meaning to catch up on my non-Fault in Our Stars John Green reading, so this seemed like a perfect start.  I instantly loved this decision.  It felt like Dash and Lily's Book of Dares all over again and I was hooked.  Although, I do have to admit that this is the first time I have ever read a YA novel and really felt the angst.  I think that part of it is that Other Will is quite depressed and moody, so his over-the-top drama made the age of the characters that much more of a plot device.  Or it could be that I'm actually getting old.  Let's hope that's not the case.

Personally, even though this book is about the pair of Will Grayson's, it revolves around Tiny Cooper.  He is the glue that keeps the Wills together.  He is the gravitational pull (seriously-he's huge so it's no small wonder that the book revolves around him).  The ending is especially Tiny-centric so I think that is what gives me the impression that this is really all about Tiny.  But it's also about the people that make up your life and how they can have unexpected effects.  

Also, since this book was set in Chicago, and Original Will and his friends are seeking out obscure bands in dive venues, I kept waiting for the Beat Kitchen on Belmont to make an appearance.  It's a super small concert venue where I saw Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers years ago.  The concert was in a windowless basement where we must have surpassed the fire code and will-call was a guy with a clipboard.  And the stage was little more than something you would set up for a middle school choir recital.  But, alas, the gang never made it to the Beat Kitchen.  I have a feeling that the places in this book were all fictional, Chicago-like destinations (with the exception of the Bean), but maybe Frenchy's is real.  Not that I'm going to Google that!  

Back to the point.  Will Grayson Will Grayson is a great mash-up of two wildly popular YA authors that isn't something that everyone has read, but it's brilliant.  I was laughing out loud and nearly in tears at the end.  If you want to be more than just a YA poser, read this book.

Happy Reading!

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