Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

There are two Will Graysons.

Well, I'm pretty sure there are lots of Will Graysons but for the purposes of this book there are two.

The first Will Grayson is in high school in Chicago, and has just reconnected with his best friend – the very large, very fabulous and very gay Tiny Cooper. Tiny is planning a musical based on his own life, and Will – who has two simple rules for living – Don't care too much and Shut up - finds himself reluctantly dragged in to help.

Will prefers to be a passive sidelines observer, but with Tiny as a best friend, it soon proves to be impossible.

The other Will Grayson is living a very different life. Different town; different school, he battles daily with depression and the only human contact he really has is with his friend Maura – who he doesn't seem to like very much – and Isaac, a boy he chats to online that he has a major crush on.

By a series of strange coincidences, the two Will Graysons meet after the first one gets ditched by Tiny and Jane – the girl that Will is crushing on – at a club, and the second travels to Chicago under the impression he's finally going to meet Isaac.

However, nothing really goes to plan.

Will Grayson one is pissed that his friends ditched him, and Will Grayson two is devastated when he finds out that Isaac is nothing more than a cruel trick played on him by Maura.

(Side note: When I read that, I swear my brain went "NNNNNNOOOOOO" in slow motion.)

That's a terrible summary – lol.

The Wills tell their stories in alternating chapters, and it takes a little bit to get used to the way the second Will never capitalises anything, but it fits with his depression and feelings of smallness in the world.

Of course, when he meets Tiny, his whole world tilts upside down. They begin dating, despite living in different towns, and the first Will finally owns up to his own feelings about Jane, a friend of Tiny's.

I loved Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I loved it pretty much beyond reason. Both Wills are very well-realised and my heart broke more than once for the second Will, especially after his friend betrayed him so badly.

I wanted to smack the first Will around the head a little for sometimes being dense, but he's there for his friends when it counts, and as for Tiny ...

... how much did I love Tiny? To distraction. Tiny Cooper is larger than life and so very much himself that as much as I felt myself holding my breath for the Wills (Will two especially), Tiny felt like a long, welcome exhale of breath.

Green and Levithan's writing is so sharp and so clear, and there are so many quotable sections that I'd end up violating copyright.

I have to quote this bit, though, because it's just so insightful and so painful that it's impossible not to put it ... everywhere:

"i think the idea of a 'mental health day' is something completely invented by people who have no idea what it's like to have bad mental health. The idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. Mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying 'i don't want to deal with things today' and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.”

That passage in particular struck a deep chord with me as it summarises Will two’s struggles and how much he feels like they isolate him from the world around him.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson was one of those books that I didn’t want to stop reading, possibly ever and now I need to read all of the things that Green and Levithan have written.

I have read Nick and Norahs’ Infinite Playlist, and Naomi and Ely’s No-Kiss List both of  which Levithan co-wrote with Rachel Cohn, but this was my first anything by Green – clearly a grievous oversight on my part.

10/10 Could not be improved on, even by angel dust and a basket of kittens


Unknown said...

Sounds like an excellent read. Will have to add it to the list!

nomadreader said...

That's strong endorsing! I don't read much YA anymore, but this one does sounds good to me.

chrisa511 said...

Um...did you say this was the first John Green you've read? *pushes copy of Looking For Alaska into Maree's hands* YOU HAVE SO MUCH GOOD READING AHEAD OF YOU!!!! Anyway :p I'm thoroughly glad that you enjoyed this one so much!!

Maree said...

Kylie: It's fantastic, I loved it
Carrie: I hope you give it a shot!
Chris: I know, I know!!!! The library has a few of his; I'll look them up ;) omg I LOVED this one!!!

Kailana said...

I'm with Chris. READ HIS OTHER BOOKS! I actually liked this one the least, so I will be curious what you think. :)

Care said...

I heart John Green. need to read more of Levithan's work. :)

Jodie said...

I just finished this and was pretty impressed. But y'know what I'm feeling the depressed Will Grayson way more than Tiny for some reason.