Almost made me miss high school. Almost.Yesterday’s book for teen book challenge week is James Dashner.
Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
I have read a David Levithan book before. Everyday is one of my all time favorite teen novels. If you haven’t read it, please do so immediately. The whole concept will blow your mind.
Speaking of blowing one’s mind, this collaboration by two teen fiction heavy weights does the genre of “real” fiction justice and Will Grayson, Will Grayson does this.
I’m going to try to make this easy by stating both main characters are named Will Grayson. For the sake of this review I will number them Will Grayson 1 and Will Grayson 2.
Will Grayson 1 is introduced first, naturally. Will 1 lives with his parents, both being doctors, in a suburbanite area of Chicago. Will has two main friends that he hangs out with. Tiny Copper, who is anything but Tiny, an openly gay member of the football team and Jane, a huge music fan that has a slight crush on Will 1.
Will Grayson 2 is a very angry young man. He lives with his single mother who he shows outward hate for. He is coping with anger issues that he is being medicated for, and he is in love with a boy named Isaac who he met online. The only time Will 2 feels alive and normal is when he is chatting online with Isaac. The rest of his day is filled with normal school and work that he is in a constant state of hatred towards.
The chapters in this book play back and forth between the two Will’s lives. Will 1 uses proper punctuation where Will 2 does not. This, besides the apparent difference in both boys’ attitudes in life, makes it easy to understand who is speaking.
This is “real” fiction done well. They are written like normal teenage boys. They swear, they think of and talk about sex and they have awkward relationships with people around them.
Nothing about them seems forced or phony. Besides being named the same thing, these could easily be two boys that I went to high school with.
Another great thing about this book is that it opens up a dialogue about teen boys and being openly gay.
Tiny, Will 1’s friend, is openly gay. Very proud, supported by his friends. At his school, the football team took offense to him being in the locker room. Will 1 wrote an open letter to the school defending Tiny and his right to play, and change, along with everyone else. This is how the two became friends. Will 1’s and Tiny’s school even has a club that supports the students.
Will 2 does not have this kind of support system. Will 2 has not told anyone except Isaac. This causes Will 2 to lie to one of his only friends, Maura, and hide the part of himself that makes him truly happy.
We get through about a hundred pages into the book when the two Wills meet. Will 1 was to attend a concert with his friends but his fake ID still didn’t make him old enough, and Will 2 was in town to meet Isaac.
Fate has them meeting at an adult store, awkward for both boys, when the clerk calls out Will 1’s name it throws Will 2 for a loop.
Because of this one night, both Will’s lives change for ever. But that’s where I am going to leave the plot line.
I added this as one of my picks because I have never read John Green. Now before you cry out about how amazing The Fault in Our Stars is, I want to add that the end of the book was ruined by a few friends of mine. I have now naturally shelved that book into the “to read much later when I forgot what they said about the ending” pile.
“Real” fiction is hard to do well. I don’t want to be stuck in a Pretty Little Liars kind-of setting. It wouldn’t feel real and no one acts like those girls in real life.
I tend to shy away unless a book truly moves me to read this.
I do want to point out something that I visualized while I was reading this. Tiny and Jane from Will 1’s life reminds me of Janis Ian and Damian from the movie Mean Girls. Please, when you read the book comment below if you can see it.
A must read just for the social issues that it tackles and the enjoyment of a good teenage drama.