will grayson

Slowly but surely I am making my way through all of John Green’s young-adult novels, and Will Grayson, Will Grayson – co-written by  David Levithan – was number three. After falling absolutely head-over-heels in love with Looking For Alaska and enjoying all but the ending of Paper Towns, I went into Grayson with understandably high expectations. I can confidently say that it was fantastic.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, through alternate narration written by authors Green and Levithan, tells the stories of two teenage boys both named Will Grayson. They are polar opposites, for the most part, and are living their lives completely oblivious to each other’s existence, until one night in Chicago they cross paths. What follows is the funny and emotional tale of the now somewhat intertwined lives of the Will Graysons.

I was drawn in right from the beginning and found this book quite difficult to put down. It covered everything from teen love and lust, anger and pain, loss, homosexuality and friendship. While every issue discussed and experienced in the story is relevant and important to reality, it seemed like the authors were trying to cover as many issues as possible in one novel. It was a little overbearing at times despite the fact that for the most part the way the issues were written about didn’t come across particularly serious. To give an example, the story features gay boys and their relationship, one who has been comfortably gay forever and one who only comes out part-way through the story. The one who comes out during the story suffers from depression, but it doesn’t have anything to do with his sexuality or how he has been treated because of it. So instead of writing a common issue, where a teen gay might be depressed because of their confusion over their sexuality and not knowing how to deal with it, they’ve thrown in depression for the sake of having a kid in the story with depression. That may seem unnecessarily critical, but obviously mine is only one opinion.

The only other real criticism I had was that I felt that the story of Levithan’s Will Grayson’s (I call him Will2) father was more important than the amount of time and attention it was given. It felt brushed over and I think you would understand Will2’s personality more if the time had been taken to really explain what happened with his dad.

The alternating chapters helped hold my attention throughout the novel and also made it easier to read when some of the content got quite emotionally heavy because you were able to take a break between chapters about each Will. The story of Will2 in particular was very intense and would have been quite emotionally draining to read all at once. If I was to choose, I think Will2 would be my favourite of the two, although I did change my mind a few times during the story. Reading each Wills point of view became particularly interesting and entertaining after they met, because there were times when you were seeing the same event or situation from both perspectives.

As far as writing style goes, Green has this way of describing things that makes you really understand what his characters are experiencing, and his portrayal of his Will Grayson (who I call Will1) exemplified this skill. I had never read any of Levithan’s work previously, but he wrote Will2 brilliantly, matching Green’s first-rate descriptions and passages with some of his own. They worked well together, blending the two stories to create one very compelling novel.

My favourite parts of the story include the huge surprise I never saw coming in chapter 8; the coming out speech in chapter 12; Will1’s best friend Tiny’s monologue in chapter 16 and of course, Tiny’s musical at the very end of the novel.

If you’re a John Green fan, this is a must-read. For anyone else who enjoys some good quality young-adult fiction, you will love this too.

  1. michelle says:

    Thanks for this review – smart, honest, articulate. Good job!

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