WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON
Author: John Green & David Levithan
Publisher: Dutton Books (a Penguin imprint)
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 320
Source of Book: Received ARC at the ALAN Workshop 2009
Author's Website: http://johngreenbooks.com www.davidlevithan.com
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them both legions of faithful fans.
First of all, I need to say, these two authors are both amazing in their own right, but put them together and you get an explosion of awesomeness. However, they definitely don't pull any punches with their writing - it's very mature (in content and theme), intelligent, and in your face. The pacing never lets you put the book down as you first wonder how the two Will Grayson characters are going to meet and then, once they do, how this epic high school musical is going to be pulled off at the end and where that will leave all of the various relationships.
This collaborative novel is written in alternating chapters between the two Will's voices. Stylistically, the two Will's are distinguished not only by their uniquely strong voices, but also the format in which his chapter was written (Will #2 does not use any capitalization or quotation marks and writes in an instant messaging style for dialogue). They are fresh, honest, confused, damaged, conflicted, real teen voices. One is gay, one is straight with a gay best friend. I appreciated so much that it just was that way-it didn't feel forced or put in to preach about-it just was. Another aspect that I appreciated was the way in which Will #2's depression was handled and explained. I think it's important for teens to see this in characters they read about and to better understand it for themselves and how they handle friends that may deal with it. It's more than just feeling down, it's being depressed mentally, and Will explains that really well.
The characters are dealing with relationships (friendly and romantic (gay and straight)), truth, peer pressures, and figuring out who they really are and how to honestly be that person in this world. It's a wonderful coming-of-age story set with the backdrop of Chicago while taking place in the classrooms and halls of the high schools, the homes, the computers, the phones of these characters. The cast of characters are all well-written, engaging, entertaining, multi-dimensional, and real. It's humorous, it's serious, it's frustrating, it's enlightening, it's wonderful. It's about love - both romantic and platonic - and the ways in which we can show that to others and help support and stand up for those we love. The ending will make you want to stand up and cheer for these characters you've grown to adore.