05 January 2011

Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Title: will grayson, will grayson
Author: John Green and David Levithan
Publisher/Year: Dutton Juvenile/ Apr. 2010
Date Finished: 22 December 2010
Source/Format: Bought/eBook

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Reading ResolutionsYoung Adult Reading, GLBT Challenge

The Short and Sweet of It
Will Grayson and will grayson lead separate lives until one night and one person bring them together. Despite the possibility for kitsch, the book remains sincere, hilarious, and highly worth the money I spent right before Christmas. On myself.

A Bit of a Ramble
The story alternates between the two Will Graysons' points of view, and Levithan and Green really managed to pull this off well. The voices are distinct, each Will is well developed, the two are very different from each other, and the authors even used different format styles for each Will's chapter (will's chapters are entirely in lower case). In other words, keeping up with who's narrating is not a problem.

Will Grayson is straight, a wee bit morose, and best friends with Tiny Cooper who is the opposite of morose. A very large, very gay high schooler, Tiny is also a big time romantic, overly altruistic to those around him, and a football player. The big event in this book is the musical, Tiny Dancer, which was written, produced, directed, and starred in by Tiny himself. Oh, and the musical is about the life (well, the various and sundry love interests) of Tiny.

will grayson is gay (but he hasn't come out), depressed, and solitary. He lives in the suburbs with his mother (not the best relationship), and his only real contact with other people is the online relationship he has going with a boy named Isaac. Isaac is the only one will can really talk to, in part because he's the only one who knows will is gay. When the two finally decide to meet face-to-face, will heads in to the city, and in a serendipitous event, he runs in to Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper.

Writing those two paragraphs felt like trimming myself down to one paragraph. Each Will Grayson reads like a complete person, and I didn't really go much beyond the surface of what's going on and who they are in these tiny little paragraphs. I was really impressed while reading with the depth and complexity of the characters. Even while reading about Person 1 at Event A, I knew that Persons 2-5 were busy elsewhere, living even when I couldn't "see" what they were doing. Hmmm...I hope that made sense. It's not often that I feel the "realness" of characters quite so much.

The set up of the story is clever without feeling contrived, and I have to admit that I was expecting contrived - two Will Graysons accidentally meet up? That definitely has the makings of a kitschy feel to it. But the story, throughout, remained very sincere in my opinion. I didn't really have to stretch my mind for believability (until the end, but more on that later). Another point in favor of the story is the hilarity. I laughed. On a lounge chair, by the pool, with family and a whole bunch of strangers around. What can I say? It was a funny book. 

I did have a few twitchy moments while reading. For one, the book revolves around Tiny Cooper, not the Will Graysons. This seemed very odd to me, considering the title of the book and the narrators most definitely point to the Wills being protagonists. And they were for the most part, but essentially the plot line centers on Tiny. The end, which is the second twitchy part for me, supports this strangeness as it fully focuses on Tiny. It was also the only part of the book I found pretty much unbelievable. It was almost but not quite an eye-rolling moment.

Overall though, these two points didn't really detract from my love of the book. Reading this reminded my of my love for John Green and David Levithan and was a slap in the face about reading more books by authors I enjoy instead of my strange tendency to read new authors all the time.

This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

Amy Reads; Fyrefly's Book Blog; Reading Thru the Night; Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity; Care's Online Book Club; books i done read; The Zen Leaf; Erin Reads; Book Blogs Search Engine;

Disclosure: Will Grayson, Will Grayson made the short list for the Indie Lit Awards: GLBTQ and I am a panelist for that category. This review in no way reflects which of the shortlisted books will get my vote for best of 2010.


  1. I am a huge John Green fan and I really enjoyed this one. I read it as an audiobook and there were two different narrators for both of the will's, which made it very easy to follow. I agree about how realistic the characters were - they definitely felt like real people to me, too.

  2. I've really been meaning to read this one - it's on the shelf! Gah, along with so many others! :) Happy Wednesday!

  3. While I really liked Tiny Cooper, i do wish there had been some closure for the Will Graysons too.

  4. I LOVED this book! I'm a big fan of Levithan and Green and they do not disappoint. I also listened to the story on audiobook. My daughter did too. One day I saw her reaching for my ipod (books only) and asked her what she was going to listen to. "Tiny's songs," she said. "I'm feeling kinda blue and listening to them makes me happy." This whole book made me happy.

  5. I have heard so many good things about this book, and despite the fact that I was initially not that excited about it, it has ended up on so many year end best lists that I just can't ignore it anymore. Also? Tiny sounds kind of hilarious, and I would love to be able to see the way in which both of these authors blend their styles to create such an interesting piece of fiction. Great review, I am now adding this one to my list. Finally!

  6. Thanks for the link! I agree that the ending was thoroughly contrived, but I'll be damned if I didn't tear up like a big ol' emotional basket case anyways! :)

    I definitely intend to go back and re-read this sometime soon - or maybe re-listen, after reading Vicky's comment... I'd love to hear Tiny's songs sung!

  7. Heather - I think this one would be good for an audio book. The voices are so unique.

    Miss Remmers - :) I know, right? I have so many TBR books, it's sad.

    Amanda - I agree completely. It was a strange choice in my opinion.

    Vicky - Love it! I would love to listen to Tiny's songs!

    Heather - I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it. I don't think you will be disappointed.

    Fyrefly - LOL! It definitely was emotional despite the kitschy quality.

  8. It SHOULD have been titled Tiny Cooper, shouldn't it? :P

  9. That's a great point, the realness of the characters--that you can feel them living even when the focus is elsewhere. I hadn't thought about it when I read the book, but I can definitely see what you mean.

    I did review the book a while back: http://erinreads.com/2010/11/will-grayson-john-green-david-levithan/, if you'd like to add it to your list :-)

  10. Ana - I really think it should have!

    Erin - That's one of my favorite parts of reading: the realness of characters.

  11. This one is really close to the top of my TBR list : I love John Green and I discovered Levithan in 2011 : I can only imagine how great they must be together.

  12. I completely agree that the ended was a wee bit eye rolling. Perhaps the only time in the whole novel where I had to suspend my disbelief. Still, I heart Tiny Cooper and would love to go and grab coffee with him.

  13. Interesting. I wasn't sure about this book before, but now I think I should check it out.

  14. This is on my GLBT challenge list, and now I am really looking forward to it! I don't read much YA, but I am the faculty sponsor for my school's GSA, so I'm trying to read more GLBT YA lit.


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