24 March 2016

Books: Will Grayson, Will Grayson By John Green & David Levithan (2010)

“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 auteurs extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.”

It’s strange reading a book like Will Grayson, Will Grayson. As a very old person, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around how much has changed from the time I went to high school from 1977-81 and today’s teens trudging through the endless days of classes with a wide variety of people. I hated my schooling years, especially those 4 years of high school, and reading about the lives of the character’s in this book was one part “I wish it was that way when I went to school” and roll my eyes knowing that both authors are giving us a hyper-reality version of life, where someone as large and in charge as Tiny Cooper could be a popular football player and a musical theater lover who has decided that his life needs to revealed in a school play.

In some ways, this book reminded me of Glee, which while being a fairly realistic portrait of high school life (well, in its first season only), it had a weird fantasy part where everyone kind of, well sort of, respected each other. Will Grayson, Will Grayson sort of lets that fantasy part be the main thrust of the novel. Which works for me. 

The book is told in alternating chapters, with John Green handling the odd numbered ones and David Levithan taking on the even ones. Straight Will Grayson writes with proper grammar and uses capital letters and feels sort of left out when his best friend Tiny is off with another short-term boyfriend or preparing for this play. The other Will Grayson id gay and writes all in lower letters and is on a few drugs to control his depression. His only real friend, besides Maura (who seems totally in love with him), is a guy named Isaac he’s been talking to on IM. When they finally plan to meet –in of all places, a porn shop in downtown Chicago- suburban Will gets a shock of his life, but he also meets Chicago Will and Tiny Cooper.

Again, while the odds of meeting someone with your name is fairly good, the whole rest of the book relies on much coincidence and convenience. This is where the hyper-reality version takes over. Also, I never got attached to gay Will Grayson, even though I guess his depression about what ever split his parents up seems very realistic. I also think the book sort of glosses over the whole catfishing incident, even though someone pays for what they did. But I felt it was a bit mishandled, becoming more of a illogical plot device; it wasn’t treated seriously. Then there is Jane, a smart, very realistic character portrayed not as someone who's obsessed with looks or cloths, but one whom brings balance to those around her.  

There is an incredible amount of foul language in the book, and while this probably plays true to the characters and real life, I was sort, I don’t know, shocked that kids talk like this? But I suppose I swear a lot, but I don’t think I swore that much when I was these characters ages. 

Gawd, I’m old.

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