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Book Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (4/5)

11 Feb

Every year, I challenge myself to read a book in Spanish. It’s a good way of keeping up the skill and learning new vocabulary words. When I was at Powell’s last summer, I grabbed a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson in Spanish so I could read it this year. I’ll have to keep reading YA books for this personal challenge because I flew through the book faster than I’ve gotten through my Spanish reads in the past.

Cover image via Goodreads

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (translated by Noemí Sobregués)

Other books by Green reviewed on this blog:

An Abundance of Katherine’s
Looking for Alaska
Paper Towns

Summary from Goodreads:

Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.

It’s not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old – including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire – Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most awesome high school musical.

I’ve never read Levithan before, but I’m familiar enough with Green’s work. It was obvious quickly that one Will Grayson was the work of Green (who I’ll call Will 1 because he speaks first) and the other of Levithan (Will 2). I liked the paralleled nature of the story and how they overlapped for much of the story and how the Will’s came together. Tiny was a wonderful character to unite them and he was bigger than life in the book. He was someone I’d want as a best friend and someone I’d avoid at school. I understood Will 1 and his complicated friendship and why Will 2 would be attracted to him. It was a very heart-warming story and I think I’m down to one John Green book until I’ve read them all.

Will 1 and Will 2 were very believable, but I felt Tiny was a bit much at times. I wanted to like him and believe he was real, but he would be a bad friend to Will 1 and not apologize for it and it made it hard for me to want good things to happen to him. I wanted some more people to interact with him and see their reactions. It seemed like no one outside of the GSA talked to him yet he was on the football team and a ton of people wanted to be in his musical. I wondered how he got along with other students and how they liked him. I would have liked a bit more of this so I could see Tiny through another lens.

Will 1 was my favorite character. I thought it was because I met him first, but I liked him more and more as the book went on. He was a good friend, for the most part. He loved and hated Tiny all along but he recognized that they needed each other and were good for each other. He grew a lot during the book, coming out of purposeful isolation to put his heart on the line for Jane and help Tiny even when he didn’t want to. Will 2’s transformation was a little more obvious so I enjoyed the subtlety of it as well.

I related to parts of all the character’s stories. I related to Will 2’s fight with Maura. There are always fights in high school and they’re never any fun. I related to Will 1’s feelings of being an outcast and not really fitting in and feeling like he didn’t deserve happiness of friendship when it was available to him. I related to Tiny’s love of the theater and his desire to tell a story on stage. I did musical theater for years growing up and I loved the magic of it. These felt like real high schoolers with real problems and I loved it.

John Green and David Levithan
Image via BookPage

Tiny’s show was a great part of the book. I loved hearing about the choir and all the other actors and how the audience reacted to the show. It was great to have Will 1 in the wings narrating the show and Will 2 in the audience to give another perspective.

The time Tiny and Will 2 were dating was the least interesting to me. They were very obsessive in their feelings, which is realistic, but it dominated the plot too much. Will 1 was pushed aside and it seemed like Tiny’s obsession with his show was put on the back burner while he was with Will 2 and that seemed unrealistic to me. It was the only time Tiny seemed to lose focus.

Tiny tells us that the story is about love. It’s about being worthy of love and it’s about more than just romantic love. Will 1 loves Tiny in a different way than Will 2. Will 2’s mom loves him in a different way than Tiny does. It’s all beautiful and Tiny’s show gives us snippets of what’s in the rest of the book. Those who love us love us when we are difficult and when we have trouble loving ourselves. Love isn’t always easy, but it always finds a way.

Writer’s Takeaway: I liked the shared authorship of this book. I have to imagine it would take a lot of planning and communication to write a book like this. For a dual-protagonist book, it worked well to have to distinctly different styles. It was easy for me to tell what parts Green had written. I wonder if a Levithan fan would be able to tell his part as easily.

I enjoyed the characters and the plot of this book. It was fun, even if it felt a bit ‘surface’ about some tough issues. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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