Reading a novel by John Green is always a pleasure. It is difficult to say which I admire more: his sharp wit or his intimate understanding of the teenage mind. I’ve never read anything by David Levithan so I didn’t specifically recognize his voice. But Will Grayson, Will Grayson does a fantastic job with an extremely sensitive topic.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0142418471&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrIt’s a novel in which all parts begin very wide apart and slowly come together, and the chapters are told in alternating voices. The first Will Grayson lives in Chicago proper, and is a straight boy with a flamboyantly gay best friend named Tiny. Tiny is a six-foot-six football-playing, musical writing giant who has a new boyfriend every week. Grayson is either teased mercilessly or shut out completely by his peers, especially after he writes and signs a letter to the editor of the school paper defending Tiny against discrimination.
The second Will Grayson is a miserable, clinically depressed, closeted homosexual teen whose only friend is a boy he met on the internet. Isaac, Will’s online romance, is the only person he feels like he can really open up to. His relationship with his mother is tenuous at best, and he has another strange pseudo-friendship with a manipulative and needy girl named Maura.
On a cold night in downtown Chicago, these two Will Graysons meet in the strangest of places, and the story gets pretty wild from there. Being a novel by John Green, there’s some shock value and a lot of surprises, so I won’t give too much away. Both Will Graysons end up learning a lot about love and life and how to blaze a trail of happiness in the emotionally tumultuous world of teenager-dom.
Also, just a heads up: the novel is vulgar. Probably some of the filthiest language I’ve read in a book for young adults. It’s a little off-putting and disappointing at first, because it is nice when authors can make a point about their characters’ moods without using foul language. However, I think with the confusing and somewhat terrifying emotions going on in these kids’ brains, it’s probably acceptable. That said, the characters felt a little overdone. Tiny was overwhelming and sometimes obnoxious. It seemed to me like the authors stereotyped him a little bit. The second, moodier Will Grayson is a little too hateful and vehement in his loathing for the entire human race. I was a little disappointed in this fact. Normally I really enjoy the characters in Green’s novels, but these were a little too much like caricatured exaggerations for my taste.
Still, I think it’s an important novel for both teens and adults to read for a couple of reasons. The first is that, like other Green novels, it gives wonderful insight into the horrifyingly lonely and soul-crushing world of a teenager. The second is that it illustrates just how difficult it must be for a kid coming to grips with a sexual preference that is not generally accepted by society, and the need that every kid feels to be accepted by his or her peers. It emphasizes also the need for people to love people in all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations, etc. and how hurtful it can be when understanding between two individuals is not present. It was an entertaining and meaningful book, and I do highly recommend reading it.