Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan

To begin, I’m a big fan of John Green. I read Looking for Alaska and fell in love with his writing. I read Paper Towns and was captured by his characters. I watched the nerd fighter vlogs he makes with his brother Hank and I felt like he was someone I’d love to grab a beer with. I love he and his brother’s sense of humor. They can joke about things, while at the same time talking about something real. All that to say I'm a big fan.

I’ve only read other collaborative works by David Levithan, including two (Nick and Norah and Dash and Lily) that he did with Rachel Cohn. Each time I really enjoyed the books, but I don’t know how much of that was because of Cohn and how much was him. I’ve never read a book solely written by Levithan.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is collaboration between Green and Levithan. They wrote alternating chapters about two teenage boys, both named Will Grayson. Green’s Will is a straight kid with a chip on his shoulder and a flamboyant gay best friend named Tiny Cooper. The other Will is gay and struggles with depression. Their paths cross one night in Chicago.

It’s hard to explain exactly why this book works so well, but a big part of it is the cynicism of the two Will Graysons. Both characters are so jaded that it balances Tiny’s optimism and enthusiasm. Without that balance the story would have felt like getting punched in the face by sunshine every time Tiny spoke, but it never feels that way. Instead Tiny is the anomaly. He’s the exception to the sarcastic rule and because of that it’s so refreshing for everyone in the story to have someone in their life that’s encouraging and joyful about life, despite whatever hardships he’s going through.

At first I didn’t love the second Will Grayson’s chapters. His whole section is written only in lowercase and that drove me nuts. He is so pessimistic and kind of mean, but he grows on you. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I began to enjoy the 2nd Will’s story so much more after Tiny becomes a part of it. You quickly realize that Tiny brings out the best in almost everyone.

The first Will Grayson’s father adds so much to the story. Parents tend to be absent in YA books, but his Dad makes a brief appearance here and it reminded me how important good parents are. Sometimes just being there or saying I love you can make all the difference in a child’s life and I loved the quiet scene Will and his Dad shared.

It’s truly a story about friendship and connection, there’s no other agenda being pushed. The real love story is one between best friends. Because it’s written by two authors I’m going to allow myself to rate them separately. I gave it an overall 4 stars, but I think Green’s sections really earned 4.5 and Levithan’s earned 3.5.

“Love is the most common miracle.”


BookQuoter said...

LOVE this book. Tiny is definitely my favorite character.
Awesome analysis/review. You are so good at this!!

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

Fantastic review! I also loved this book and felt similarly about the 2nd Will Grayson. Even still, I enjoyed John Green's sections a bit more.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

BookQuoter - Thanks! I think it's interesting that two author could write the same character so well.

Kat - I'm curious to try a book written solely by Levithan to see what I think.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I had a tough time with the second Will Grayson's narrative as well and I LOVE how you talk about getting punched in the face with Sunshine--isn't Tiny awesome? Would read this book again JUST for him.

So you think Green wrote Will 1 and Levithan Will 2? Wasn't sure about that.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Trish - Yes, I read somewhere that Green wrote the first Will. I don't think it says in the book though.

Ana S. said...

The second Will Grayson really grew on me as well. On a side note, I really love the paperback cover you posted.

Alex (The Sleepless Reader) said...

I've been seeing this book pop up everywhere lately and I love the premise. Still, I think I'll start with his previous ones (like Nick & Norah).

Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

I loved this book, and, like you, the second Will Grayson grew on me as well. I also loved the romance between the first Will Frayson and Jane, and the concept of Shrodinger's cat. :)

Jeanne said...

Good point about how Tiny is offset because the two Wills are so jaded. I loved that, especially the ending.

Trisha said...

"Punched in the face by sunshine"!!! I love it!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

hardback copy, but I love seeing the variety of covers out there.

Alex - Nick & Norah was a fun one. Dash & Lily is a perfect Christmas read.

Darlyn - Jane worked so well in this book! I loved the Shrodinger's cat thing too. I hadn't heard of that before.

Jeanne - I think it was that contrast that made it work. Too much of the cheerfulness or cynicism wouldn't have worked.

Trisha - Bahaha.

Jenners said...

I've been curious about this book … and the whole idea of collaborative writing between authors. I'll have to check it out.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I've seen more and more collaborative works in recent years. It's a good way to find a new author. I love Green's work, but might not have tried Levithan if they hadn't worked together.