Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan

Staff Review by Chris Saliba

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a heartfelt and funny novel about the problems of teenage life, such as love, sexuality, and self-esteem. 

This is, you could argue, an experimental novel by young-adult authors John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) and David Levithan. Both write alternating chapters, describing the action from two different character viewpoints. Yet despite two writers working like a tag team, they produce a remarkably seamless book, as though the novel were the work of one author. Will Grayson Will Grayson is quite a success.

As the title suggests, the story revolves around two boys named Will Grayson. The first Will Grayson is introduced in chapter one, written by John Green. This Will Grayson is having a few personal problems, and is struggling to make his relationships work. He has a flamboyant gay friend named Tiny Cooper, who is trying to hook him up with a girl named Jane. (It’s funny how it’s the straight author, John Green, who creates the most outre and likeable gay character in the novel.)

Chapter two, by David Levithan, introduces the second Will Grayson. This Will Grayson is on anti-depressant medication. He’s also gay and having an online relationship with a guy named Issac. It’s quite clear that he’s putting too many emotional eggs in the one basket with his online activities. When he sets up a meeting with Issac, things don’t turn out as he expected. In a strange twist, he meets this other Will Grayson and the two strike up a friendship that will change both of them.

There’s much to enjoy in this funny, inventive and earnest novel about teenage problems such as love, sexuality, and self-esteem. Both Will Graysons are trying to find their place in an adult world they are about to fully enter. Both are trying to work out complex emotional feelings, trying to be wanted and loved, without being hurt. I think the reason the novel is successful is that at its heart it speaks honestly to young people about the emotional difficulties of being young and soon to be adult. Reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson I felt a twinge of what it was like to be seventeen again.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan. Published by Text. ISBN: 9781921656231 RRP: $19.95

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