I really enjoy John Green, one of the most popular YA novelists for this generation (Do I count as part of this generation, still? Probably not). There are hardly any YA books with male protagonists and so Green’s writing and perspective is a refreshing voice for YA lit. I only know David Levithan through his collaboration on Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist but I do like his characters as well. Two particularly different authors in writing and style.
And so begins Will Grayson, Will Grayson, two same-named teen strangers near Chicago, with each chapter alternating between the two characters’ lives, and also, alternating between the two authors.
At the start of Chapter 2, I immediately knew Green wrote Chapter 1 and is the first Will Grayson, a Neutral Milk Hotel-listening quiet guy who tries to avoid social and emotional commitments to anything and everyone. Unsurprisingly, This Will Grayson is my favorite. His story, his voice, his character.. He’s someone I would undoubtedly have a crush on were he at my high school.
The second will grayson is a closeted gay, anti-social and clinically depressed type who is pretty whiney and too woe-is-me and his chapters are presented completely in lowercase. I think I’m too old to connect to his teenage angst and emo-tion anymore, but his chapters do carry the most memorable and weighted words. His growth is the most rewarding to unravel.
The most notable personality is neither of the title characters, but Tiny Cooper, a loud vibrant gay character who is not at all a stereotype.
Things really get going when the two Will Graysons meet unexpectedly, sparking significant changes in both their lives. I’ve read a few collaboration novels with alternating author chapters, but I’d say this is the best I’ve finished thus far. The story is seamless and flows smooth, as though they plotted the denouement (which, they hadn’t) and the two styles compliment and contrast each other brilliantly for the two tales.
In typical YA fashion, it unravels lessons of love and friendship and growing, resulting in a coming-of-age. But it does so in a very entertaining and authentic way that doesn’t lean too sweet or sappy.
Favorite quote: “You like someone who can’t like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot.”
Movie dream cast:
Will Grayson: Callan McCauliffe, Michael Angarano, or Kyle Gallner
will grayson: Ezra Miller or Kyle Gallner
Tiny Cooper: Daniel Franzese (Damian in Mean Girls)
Jane: Alia Shawkat