Will Grayson, Will Grayson – Who can pass up a two-for-one deal?
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
A book review by Kendyl Bryant of The Adaptation Podcast.
It seems that John Green has been all over the book blogs lately given that The Fault in Our Stars film is only a few weeks away and it was recently announced his previous novel, Paper Towns would be following in those film adaptation footsteps. All this press has inevitably sent new readers in the direction of John’s books, looking to follow up TFIOS with another deeply-felt, smart novel.
If that is you, I would humbly recommend that before latching on to John’s solo work, you pick up his collaborative novel with David Levithan called Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The novel centers around two high school boys living in the greater Chicago area and both named Will Grayson. Their story is told in alternating chapters with John Green writing the odd number chapters that focus on Will Grayson #1 and David Levithan taking the even chapters from the perspective of Will Grayson #2.
The first Will has two rules for making it through life: shut up and don’t care too much. Failure to follow these rules, according to him, will get you into trouble every time. Unfortunately for Will, his best friend Tiny Cooper never stops talking, falls in love on an almost daily basis (resulting in a string of broken hearts and ex-boyfriends) and is desperately attempting to set Will up with his friend Jane.
Will the Second has no close friends in his school, although classmate Maura would like to be a little more than friends. But the only person Will wants to get that close to is Isaac, a boy he met on the internet. The two decide to meet up for the first time in Chicago on the same night that Will #1 and his friends attend a concert in the city. The night turns rather disastrous for both Will Graysons leading them to meet each other in an awkward turn of events and entwining their lives in a not-so unexpected way.
Both authors do a fantastic job of giving their Will a unique voice. If you turned to a random page you could immediately tell which Will was narrating, and not just because Will #2 has something against capitalization. And though their stories are very different, the themes in each Will’s life complement each other in a way that makes for a cohesive experience.
The entire cast of characters provides varied perspectives on life- from the darkest in Maura to Tiny’s airy personality- giving every reader someone to relate to and learn from. And there are definitely some life lessons for the characters and for the reader. The authors aren’t too heavy-handed about it, but the story is written in a clever way that involves the reader in both Will Grayson’s mistakes. No spoilers, but a good thing to remember with this book is that narrative characters are only presenting the reader with their own personal perspective.
In addition, this novel is really respectful in all that it touches, from the emotional intelligence of teenagers to coming out in high school to mental (un)health. In line with other John Green novels, it allows to the reader to imagine every character complexly and treats teenagers like the almost fully grown humans that they are (aka NOT CHILDREN). It’s hopeful in a way that is very unexpected while being a perfect contrast to the biting humor of the two main characters.
So if you are looking for a book to follow up The Fault in Our Stars in your John Green journey, check out Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Who can pass up a two-for-one deal?
The Adaptation Podcast covered The Fault in Our Stars on a recent episode. You can listen to the in-depth discussion, containing spoilers, here. Or copy this link: http://adaptationpodcast.com/2014/05/08/adaptation-85-even-voldy-cried-during-tfios/
They have also named Will Grayson, Will Grayson as a film adaptation that they would love to see and will be dream casting the hypothetical film on an upcoming vlog. Follow the YouTube channel to see it when it comes out here.
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