Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan

Posted 13 June, 2010 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 11 Comments


Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Authors: John Green and David Levithan
Published: 2010  Pages: 310
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5

First can I just say Yippee for finally finishing a book?  It’s not just that I haven’t been writing reviews lately, it’s that I haven’t finished any books [recently] to write reviews!   So, big fat Yippee!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two teenaged characters by the name of…yup…Will Grayson.  John Green and David Levithan cowrote the story, each writing for one Will Grayson in alternating chapters.  WG 1 has just fallen out with the Group of Friends and his only true remaining friend is the very gay Tiny Cooper who is constantly falling in and out of love and hooking poor WG 1 up with Jane.  WG 2 struggles with depression and being a closeted gay and has fallen in love with a boy online named Isaac.  The two WGs meet by pure chance at a Chicago porn shop after WG 1’s fake id isn’t enough to get him into a concert (the fake says he’s 20!) and WG 2 travels by train to meet Isaac for the first time.  From there on out their lives intertwine in ways that you wish could happen in real life.

This is my first foray into David Levithan and my second taste of John Green (I listened to Paper Towns and as soon as I can get my hands on a hardcopy will try to review).  At first I’ll admit I didn’t really care for this book.  I was only reading a chapter here and there before bed and I preferred WG 1 much more than WG 2.  In fact, I couldn’t stand WG 2.  He was moody and negative and just a plain downer.  But everything changed for me once the two WGs met and their stories began to intertwine.  In the end I think I even prefer WG 2 and could see so much more growth in him as a character than for any other character. 

I’ll start with the things I didn’t like.  WG 2 doesn’t use capitalization and his story line caused me to hold my book close when I was reading in public so book peepers couldn’t read the foul language and sexual content over my shoulder.  I didn’t like the moodiness and the down and out depression.  I lived through this once as a teen and don’t really care to revisit it through literature.  I bought this book after RAVE reviews and I couldn’t help but be let down just a little teeny tiny bit. 

BUT.  The things I loved.  Tiny Cooper.  The fact that Tiny Cooper wrote a musical first about himself and then about love.  Since I’m obsessed with all things musicals (Glee!), I loved loved loved this.  I also loved how real the characters are.  Ok, so maybe they’re a bit exaggerated and even a tad stereotyped, but there was a realness in their interactions, conversations, and thoughts that I really appreciated.  When you’re 16 or 17 or 18 you believe that you hold all of the world’s wisdom, and I think to an extent teenagers do have a lot of wisdom.  Just maybe not the maturity to fully realize what that wisdom actually means.  I felt this when I was listening to Paper Towns as well–there’s so much honest raw truth in these books–the knowing everything without really knowing anything or having the experience to put that honest raw truth to good use. 

In the end I enjoyed the book.  I mark down for the language and content–at times it’s a little base and even crude.  And I know this comes with the teenaged territory, but still.  This book definitely had it’s gritty moments that made me think “really…?”  But the good definitely outweighs the bad on this one.  And above everything else, it’s a story about love.  What more can you ask for?  Love, and finding yourself, and forgiving, and discovering, and recovering.  But mostly love.

A few favorite parts:
“That’s the problem: so many things are true.  It’s true that I want to smother her with compliments and true that I want to keep my distance. True that I want her to like me and true that I don’t.  The stupid, endless truth speaking out of both sides of its big, stupid mouth.  It’s what keeps me, stupidly, talking” (WG 1, 53).

“‘Yeah,’ I say.  “‘It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else'” (WG 1, 114).

“the only time that i pretend i have it all together is when maura’s around.  i don’t want her to see me falling apart.  worse case scenario: she stomps on all the pieces.  worse-than-that case scenario: she tries to put them together again.  i realize: i am now where she was with me.  on the other side of the silence.  you’d think that silence would be peaceful.  but really, it’s painful” (WG 2, 264).

“that’s it–hundreds of texts and conversations, thousands upon thousands of words spoken and sent, all boiled down to a single line [“i think you’re in love with my need”].  is that what relationships become?  a reduced version of the hurt, nothing else let in.  it was more than that.  i know it was more than that” (WG 2, 298).

I am an Amazon Associate and if you purchase Will Grayson, Will Grayson or other Amazon products through this review, I receive a small portion of the purchase price.

11 Responses to “Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan”

  1. I bought a copy of this so I could have something for both authors to sign when I was at the book festival. I haven’t managed to read it yet, partly because it’s not my usual type of read and so I’m not exactly knocking down doors to get to it. I do want to read it someday though.

    No caps bothers me too–my boss is notorious for her no caps/no punctuation e-mails. She thinks it’s funny. I cringe every time I get an e-mail from her because of it.

  2. I love David Levithan far more than I like John Green, and I really liked this book despite the slightly overplayed stereotypes. I think they felt real under that, if that makes sense.

    The grit didn’t bother me in this one though. It felt appropriate to the characters, and it’s when it feels gratuitous and out of character that it bothers me (like in the Time Traveler’s Wife).

  3. It’s funny how we both had mixed feelings about the book for the opposite reasons. I appreciated the raw honesty, or “crudeness”, but felt that the excessive emphasis on Tiny Cooper took away from the story. More when I finally post my review :P

  4. *Lit Feline – I’m not sure this is a typical read for me either but I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. And I eventually got used to the no-caps writing, but it was a distraction at first.

    *Bermuda – This is one of those that I have a hard time pinpointing who I think would enjoy it. The reviews seem to be very slanted one way or another (from little I’ve seen)–I’m more middle of the road.

    *Amanda – Well then, I’ll have to try more Levithan! Any ideas who wrote which section? I was kind of thinking Green was WG 1 and Levithan was WG 2 but honestly have no idea. Grit bothers me more when it’s teenaged grit. I’d rather read it in adult lit if at all. And I know that teenagers speak and think that way…it’s hard to explain, I think. :/ But yes, I did feel like even though the characters were stereotyped they felt real, which I really liked.

    *Nymeth – Hmmm…I did really like the raw honesty in this book. Just not the crude jokes. :) And Tiny actually wasn’t my favorite character and I found him superficial and annoying, but I liked the idea of Tiny Cooper–someone so passionate and full of love that he’s basically bursting from the seams. I’m contradicting myself, huh? Maybe I’m a little like WG 1…

  5. People are so polarized on this one – not in the overall liked it or didn’t like it way, but in the reasoning behind judgment. This intrigues me like nothing else, so I’m really going to have to find a way to get my hands on this book!

  6. I just popped into your blog and was astonished to discover that nobody is home…that you’ve moved house. Just my two cents, but for my own sanity, I limit myself to one post a week. I love blogging, but I also want to have a life and, well, actually read!

  7. I too was intrigued enough to add this book to my wish list. I always think it is intersting when two authors choose to write together. It is a brave thing to do on on of their parts I think!

  8. *Trisha – The book itself has some interesting issues so I can see why people would be polarized on different aspects. I hope you like it!

    *Readerbuzz – Emailed you Debbie but yup, at a new home. It’s actually taking some time to get used to the slower pace over here!

    *Eva – Isn’t that great line about truth? Life is conflicting–it’s hard to draw a definite line in the sand. But I think that’s OK!

    *Violetcrush – There are some great lines in this book. And I agree it’s probably not a book for everyone.

    *Jenners – I’ve heard that Green and Levithan wrote their chapters completely separately but I can’t see how that’s possible. The collaboration for this novel worked so well–very seamless but at the same time the two Will Graysons are very distinct.