Will Grayson is a perpetually average guy, overshadowed by his larger-than-life best friend, Tiny, who is currently busy putting on Tiny Dancer, a musical of his life (the indisputably gayest musical ever written, as even he agrees). Meanwhile, elsewhere in his town, Chicago, another boy, also named Will Grayson, is living with clinical depression, unable to connect with anybody except Isaac, his long-distance online boyfriend, who he has never met in person. When the two Will Graysons meet by chance one night, both of them at low points, their storylines intertwine, pushing both of them off their tracks and into the unknown.
I was coerced and urged over a long period of time to read this book, but I was hesitant, because of my John Green issues. I read Paper Towns a while ago, and enjoyed it well enough, but didn’t love it. Then later I started listening to An Abundance of Katherines on a car trip, but I don’t do that well with listening to books, and the trip wasn’t long enough to get very far in it. So my relationship with John Green has been kind of stalled on the runway, and then came the John Green explosion, with everybody ADORING him (especially since I’ve joined Tumblr, they love him on there), and loving The Fault in Our Stars, which I know is way too sad for me to ever read, and I just started feeling like he was one of those bandwagons that was going to pass me by.
But I think this was the perfect gateway book to John Green, because he wrote it with David Levithan, who I LOVE LOVE LOVE. And you know what? I couldn’t for the life of me tell which chapter was written by who. John Green’s sections had everything I love about David Levithan—the same sardonic wit, the same loveable, relatable characters, the same awkward, sweet and believable romance. And both authors infuse their writing with meaning and insightfulness that doesn’t feel overdone or preachy.
Both Will Graysons had my heart. Will Grayson #2 annoyed me a little at first, because he doesn’t capitalize any of his letters, which seemed really affected to me (I still think it would have been stronger without that quirk— his character would have shown through just fine without it, and it’s a tad gimmicky), and also his incredibly bleak and negative outlook got on my nerves. But I realize that’s kind of the point; he gets on his own nerves too, for the very same reasons. Once things started going a little better for him, and I came to understand him better and feel empathy, I came to love and care about him. Will Grayson #1’s story was a delight from the start. Tiny was so fun to read about. In Will’s words, “Tiny Cooper is not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is also really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is also really, really large”. I really can’t try to summarize and describe Tiny here, except to say that he’s a force of nature. I really enjoyed reading everything that Will #1 thought, and his romance line was very gripping, cute, and above all, very realistic.
Another great aspect of this book was the musical storyline. The lyrics from the songs, which are quoted here and there throughout, are highly entertaining, and as a long-time theater participant, I enjoyed all references to the process of putting on the show. It really added to the story.
The very ending of the book is highly, highly unrealistic. But it was fun.
John Green and David Levithan clearly make a perfect team. The latter didn’t disappoint me, and the former has earned my trust— at least enough to pick up one of his solo books. We’ll see what happens.
In any case, yes, Em, I finally read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and yes, you were right.