I’ve heard people say John Green’s second-best book next to The Fault In Our Stars is Looking For Alaska, but I beg to differ — Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a real treat. This may be due in large part to the involvement of David Levithan, co-author of some of my YA favorites: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No-Kiss List, etc.
Will Grayson, a teenager in the Chicago suburbs, is best friends with a very large gay boy named Tiny. Will’s two main rules in life are “shut up” and “don’t care”, but those rules have gotten a little blurry due to a) his writing a letter to the school paper defending Tiny’s gayness, and b) Tiny’s cute female friend Jane coming into the picture. In both instances he a) does not shut up and b) cares. So he’s not too sure about these rules anymore. The other Will Grayson, another teenager in another Chicago suburb, is having an extremely hard time coping with the fact that is a) gay and b) depressed. OWG (Other Will Grayson) has approximately one friend, Maura, who he thinks does not know about his gayness or depression. He is extremely mean to his extremely sad and lonely mother, and his life basically revolves around talking to his online “boyfriend” Isaac. The two Wills cross paths in Chicago one night when Will #1 is unable to get into a concert with Tiny and Jane and Will #2 is trying to meet up with “Isaac”, who actually turns out to be Maura. (Seriously, messed up.) The Wills sort of instantly understand, feel sorry for and confide in one other, and it’s sort of adorable.
The story is truly excellent up until the end of the night mentioned above — John Green and David Levithan write teenagers so well, kind of like more serious and male versions of Sarah Dessen — but it starts to get a little confusing after that. At one point I just wasn’t sure what the book was even about anymore; was it Will Grayson breaking his life rules and talking and caring instead of shutting up and not caring? Will Grayson and Jane’s developing relationship? Tiny’s gay identity? OWG’s battle with depression? OWG’s relationship with Isaac/Maura? OWG’s relationship with Tiny? (Oh, they start dating after the night in Chicago.) OWG’s relationship with Gideon? (Oh, Gideon is OWG’s new friend who is also gay.) All of the above? There is also a legit high school musical written by, directed by, produced by and starring Tiny, so was it mostly about that? I’m just not sure.
Regardless, it’s always a refreshing change to read a book from a male perspective written by a male (or two), like a rare glimpse into an otherwise mysterious psyche. So, to reiterate my point earlier, after The Fault In Our Stars, I highly recommend this John Green (and David Levithan) work.