Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Dutton Books, 2010. ISBN 9780525421580.
(Age 15+) Recommended. A YALSA Best Fiction Nominee for Young Adults (2010), Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two teens with the same name, who meet in a porn shop where neither of them want to be. Their meeting sets off a series of events surrounding the very large and very gay Tiny Cooper, who is writing a musical about his friend the first Will Grayson.
The collaboration by John Green and David Levithan works very well, both authors giving their characters an authentic and often humorous teen voice. John Green's Will Grayson is not into taking risks. He regrets that he has taken a stand defending Tiny Cooper's sexuality and hasn't kept to his rules: 1, don't care. 2, shut up. He dreads how Tiny will portray him in the musical that he has obtained funding for. The other Will Grayson is depressed and for much of the book, I found myself disliking him as a character. On reflection I decided that it was Levithan's excellent portrayal of the downs of depression that made me feel that way. It was interesting, too, to get two viewpoints of Tiny Cooper who is the central character. John Green portrays him as a rather unfeeling friend to his Will Grayson, while David Levithan's Will Grayson see him as a shining star, too bright for him. Other characters in the mix are well fleshed out: Jane the patient friend and Maura the Goth girl feel like real people and depressed Will's mother is a loving parent. However it is the three boys, with their relationships, friendship and loves, who are the ones who stand out.
The themes of finding yourself and your sexuality, of true friendship and of depression are powerful and both authors bring many moments of revelation about teenage life. I particularly liked Tiny Cooper's insight that his musical was about love, not Will Grayson or Tiny Cooper.
Fans of John Green's books (Looking for Alaska, An abundance of Katherines, Paper towns) and David Levithan's books (Nick and Norah's infinite playlist, Naomi and Ely's no kiss list, Boy meets boy) won't be disappointed. Green's writing as always, is brilliant, brimful of humour and memorable observations and Levithan's description of a gay teen fighting depression is poignant. Recommended for older teens, as it contains some strong language and sexual themes. You can read an interview with John Green and David Levithan from Out .