Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
3.75 stars

Reasons for reading: I really like John Green's writing and David Levithan's work with Rachel Cohn; Book with a name in the title for Four Month Challenge

Summary (from a review in School Library Journal): "Will Grayson's best friend since fifth grade, nicknamed Tiny Cooper, is bigger than life in terms of his physical stature and his personality—the "world's largest person who is really, really gay." Tiny, while seeking the boy of his dreams, has been through the trauma of myriad short-lived romantic relationships and Will has supported him each time his heart is broken. Now, Tiny decides it's Will's turn. At first, Will resents Tiny's matchmaking efforts, but then an amazing coincidence that stems from it brings a new person into their lives. It's another teen named Will Grayson, who is sad and depressed, and captures Tiny's heart. While these and other relationships are connecting, intersecting, and eventually changing, Tiny writes and produces an autobiographical high school musical extravaganza that is really about life. On the night it premiers, everything comes full circle and further validates the presence of the Will Graysons. Based on the premises that "love is tied to truth" and "being friends, that's just something you are," this powerful, thought-provoking, funny, moving, and unique plot is irresistible."

First lines: "When I was little, my dad used to tell me, "Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper."

My thoughts: Well, the first paragraph sets you up for some typical John Green goodness! At first I wasn't sure about this book, it seemed like it was going to be way too angsty for me, especially with the incredibly depressed gay Will Grayson (it's the easiest way to differentiate between the two) and the other Will with his rules of don't care too much and shut up. There was also a lot of does he/she like me, do I like him/her going on and Tiny Cooper is SO over the top in everything from his size to his gayness to his flair for the dramatic.

But once the two Wills met, things started rolling along a bit better. It really is a cool concept - what happens when you hear your name addressed to a stranger in the strangest of locations (I won't give it away, but it's one of the funniest parts). There's a lot of emotion in the book - people realizing they love each other (family, friendship, and romance), feelings getting hurt, people learning about themselves... I also enjoyed that Tiny's rather implausible musical, Tiny Dancer, comes about and is so successful. The songs (pretty much all about Tiny's hugeness or gayness or fabulousness) are rather a hoot. I loves me some musical theatre.

The verdict: I had varying feelings about the book throughout, liking it and not being sure I did and sometimes wondering who the intended audience was, but the ending was lovely and joyful (and surprising), so that went a long way.

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