Monday, May 23, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Book:  Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors:  John Green and David Levithan
Publisher:  Dutton Books
Genre:  YA Contemporary
Source:  purchased for my YA lit class this summer
Grade:  B

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 legions of faithful fans. (description and book cover from
My Review

This is book number 1 of 25 that I have to read for my YA lit class this summer.  This book is actually 1 of 8 selected by my professor and then I get to choose 17 more.  Hooray!

I was thrilled when I saw this book on my professor’s required reading list because I have wanted to read this book for a while.

The first half of the book, I must admit, was a total disappointment to me.  The setup of the book is really fun, with alternating chapters told from each Will Grayson’s point of view.  However, I found that I didn’t really like either one of the Will Grayson’s very much.  They both were boring and honestly, gay Will Grayson was just downright mean.  I had to keep pushing myself to read because, well, it’s for class and I had to.

Of course, like many books, I reached that point where the story started to make more sense and the characters were redeemed!  Hooray!  I’m glad I stuck with this one, because when I finally got to the end of the book, what I thought was going to be a D had turned into a B!  I still didn’t love it like I wanted, but I really, really liked it.

As I said, the alternating chapters were a neat way to show the 2 Will Graysons.  I really liked this structure.  It helped me to understand each character and then it was really fun to see their meeting in both points of view.

The plot was good, I guess.  There was nothing horribly exciting about it, but it did manage to capture the day-to-day life of teenage boys pretty well.  At least, the nerdy, geeky shy teenage boys with no friends.  I sort of felt sorry for straight Will Grayson, but most of the time, I just wanted to kick his rear into action!!  And don’t even get me started on gay Will Grayson!  He really did need to have his rear kicked for being so……mean and hateful!

Of course, things start to liven up once the Will Graysons meet.  This book may be named after the Will Graysons, but the character that saved this book is Tiny Cooper!  Once Tiny starts interacting with both Will Graysons, things get more exciting.

Of course, this is a coming-of-age story, so each of the Will Grayson’s must learn something and grow.  They do that and by the end of the story, I liked each of them better.  The ending was very heartwarming and filled with hope.  In another book, it probably would have been too cheesy, but it fit this book and especially Tiny Cooper’s larger than life personality.

The book does address some important issues, like homophobia and apathy and finding your own way in life.  The Will Graysons both learn a lot about love and life.  In fact there were several passages that I loved so much that I marked them so that I could go back and re-read them.

I suppose that I should include a few warnings about this book.  There is a lot of foul language in this book.  Now, I teach high school and I know that this is really how high school kids talk because I have to correct them about 400 gazillion times a day.  But if you are easily offended by bad language, you need to be aware that these authors are not scared to drop the f-bomb!

Also, there is open discussion of masturbation and homosexuality and heterosexuality and sex in general.  I actually found that to be refreshing.  After all, there is a statistic floating around somewhere that the average 17 year old boy thinks about sex every 3-5 seconds or something.  I found this to be very true-to-life as well, since I also have to remind all the 17 year old boys that I teach that everything is NOT about sex!

The openness of this book was very refreshing for me.  I liked it that the authors were not afraid to tackle difficult topics and situations.  I liked it that each of the characters grew and became better people during the course of the book.  That’s what we hope happens to teenagers as they struggle in their search for self-identity.

My grade for this book is a B.  I didn’t love it, but I really, really liked it.  I think that this book is a great, thought-provoking read.  Although slow to start, the ending was phenomenal.  If you are looking for a book to make you think and to possibly challenge your own beliefs, this is the book for you.

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