Friday, February 4, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Green, John and David Levithan. Will Grayson, Will Grayson. New York: Dutton - Penguin Group, Inc., 2010. Print.
[Book cover credit:]

ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011)
Stonewall Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Honor (2011)

Somewhere far away, in an alternate universe or something, there might be another you who is a lot like you but also a lot different. I mean, he's not really you. But what if that other you was only on the other side of Chicago? And then he started dating your best friend? Welcome to Will Grayson's life. When he meets will grayson in a porn shop, a simple name mix-up is the least of his problems.

will grayson is in a panic when he goes to meet his internet boyfriend in chicago. the only thing worse than realizing that they're supposed to meet at a porn shop is having his name yelled out from the front counter...but not at him. and so he meets owg (other will grayson) and owg's best friend tiny cooper who might just have a thing for sad freaked out guys sitting on the curb outside a porn store.

To echo so many that have come before me, this book is full of awesome and I loved it! I have never not become obsessed with a John Green guy (where were these guys when I was in high school?!?), and his Will Grayson did not disappoint. He was classic nerd/cool/snarky/insecure/intelligent/good guy. This is the first fiction by Levithan that I've read, and it was a great intro into his work. His will grayson was horrifically depressed throughout most of the book, but he was still funny and mean and self-deprecating in a way that insults everyone and, you know, hiding his soft gooey center behind all his built up toughness. The secondary characters in each of their separate lives were relatively well-fleshed out for how important they were to both the story and their respective WG. The fact that will grayson's friends are kind of one-dimensional says more about will than it does about Levithan; the reverse is true for Green and his Will. And the one character they share, Tiny Cooper, is always larger than life.

Tiny Cooper is fabulous. He's a bit self-centered, but he's also all over the place for his friends. It all revolves around him, but he wants them there and involved, not because he wants them to witness his fabulosity but because they mean the world to him. But here is how Tiny is always described:
Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large.
That's fine, but it immediately reduces Tiny to a caricature of himself (or the guy from Mean Girls). And they do it over and over again. Every time someone mentions him, sees him, thinks about him, even apologizes to him, they reference his size, and not just his height, they gotta throw "300 pounds" in there or something. Calling your best friend (or your boyfriend) fat all the time as if that's his only personality trait (or is even a personality trait to begin with) makes people cringe a little. Tiny has the illustrative joy of being both big and gay, something that is used a lot to describe people's personalities without any irony at all, as if that's even a personality trait to begin with. It's not as obvious as, say, the new "That's So Gay" ads (which I love for their obviousness, but it only works because it's 30 seconds and not 300 pages), but the message is there without the feeling that there is a Message or Important Lesson.

And this book, secret lesson and all, is hilarious. It is embarrassing to read on public transportation hilarious. And there's a musical, written by Tiny Cooper about his life. And there's tender first love (complete with Green's trademark awkwardness) and crushing first heartbreak (complete with Levithan's snarky gloom and doom). And there's bad emo poetry that is recognized as being bad emo poetry. And the WGs have some of the best parents in YA I've seen in a while. And if you need more reasons than this to go pick up Will Grayson, Will Grayson, well then, I don't think we can still be friends. :)

Book source: Best Christmas present ever!

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