Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: General Fiction/GLBT
Size: 304 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: From Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
I am a big John Green fan; I loved Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines and I have Looking for Alaska sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. So when I saw a new book by John Green I couldn’t wait to read it. This was a wonderful book with wonderful characters.
The book switches between two different viewpoints; each viewpoint is from a different Will Grayson. The first Will Grayson is best friends with a huge gay teen named Tiny. Will kind of lives in Tiny’s shadow. Tiny is preparing a glorious musical for high school that he wants Will’s help with; Will is struggling with his relationship with Tiny as well as with how he feels about a cute girl named Jane. Tiny is trying to force Jane and Will into dating. Then there is the Other Will Grayson, who we will call OWG, who is having an online relationship with a teenage guy; they finally decided to meet in person. OWG is also dealing with his best friend who is a girl but wants to be more than that and with ongoing clinical depression. Things culminate into craziness when Will Grayson enters a porn shop out of boredom and bumps into OWG, who is looking for his online boyfriend. The reader is left on the edge of the seat wondering what will happen with Will Grayson; will him and Tiny stay friends, will he hook up with Jane, will the musical go on? What will happen to OWG when he tries to hook up with his online crush?
Okay I am not sure if the above clarifies things, but remember this is a John Green book…so despite (or maybe because of) all the weird relationship stuff going on this is a really great book. You have a lot of wonderfully realistic characters dealing with a lot of issues. Green and Levithan do an excellent job capturing the intricacies of all of the teenage angst that these characters are going through. The characters are wonderfully quirky and easy to sympathize with and love.
I have never read anything by Levithan before, and I am assuming he wrote what I am calling the OWG parts of the book (since that Will Grayson was introduced second). He does a great job capturing the troubled moments of that character as well and after reading this book I really want to read more from Levithan.
I was also really impressed with how the Will Graysons’ parents were portrayed; the parents are understanding people who are trying to do the best that they can as their sons struggle through high school and adolescence. I think most parents really do try to do the best that they can for their kids, (despite what a lot of YA literature portrays) so it was nice to see this…it leaves you feeling good.
The character of Tiny bears mentioning because he is central to so much of the book. Tiny is large and gay and proud of it; he portrays a sense of positivity that is prevalent throughout the whole book…and in a way it is really him that drives the story. You have to love Tiny; his confidence in himself, the way he tries to exude happiness, his melodrama, and his utter belief in love.
The writing of this book was high quality and super easy to read. It was incredibly engaging and I found myself reading the whole book in a day, unable to put it down for longer than a few hours at a time. There is something magical about the story and the way it is written; even if there isn’t actually and fantasy here.
I know this book has created some controversy as to whether or not it is age appropriate. I agree that it is probably best suited for mid to older teens. There is a ton of swearing, lots of talk about sex, and loads of gay sexual references. All of this was fairly pertinent to the story, so I don’t think it was frivolous. At heart this is more a book about friendship, about love, and about accepting yourself and others for who they are.
Overall a wonderful read. It leaves the reader feeling positive and upbeat. The book addresses issues about self-confidence, belonging, GLBT rights, accepting people for who they are, love, and happiness. This book just cements John Green more firmly in my mind as a must read author. It adds David Levithan to my list of authors I want to read more from. I have had Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy on my “to read” list for a while now and this book makes me bump that up further on the list.