Yin and yang of Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan; published by Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Books, New York, 2010; 310 pages.

We’ve all Googled ourselves to see how many people have the same name, right?  Well, for Will Grayson, there are at least two in the Chicagoland area, at least in this collaborative novel by superstar authors Green & Levithan.  Each author has created a Will Grayson; one straight, one gay, both angsty teens.  A chance encounter in a most unexpected location leads the pair, and a wonderful cast of friends and family, through a painful but ultimately redeeming journey for love.  But not romantic love necessarily, but “love” in the neighborhood sense, in the familial and friendly sense.  In terms of unconditional “being there” for one another.  And the standing ovation at the end of the book just might have you standing, applauding, too.

Ah, my experience with collaborative books is not great.  I don’t really enjoy reading them.  Too often, the author’s disparate voices detract from the storytelling.  To get around that issue, Levithan and Green each speak, in alternating chapters, as one of the Will Graysons.  We start with Green’s Grayson: straight, two parents at home, close friends, and struggling with typical teen troubles.  Then we shift to Levithan’s Will: gay, single-parent family, struggling financially, and written in all lower-case (to express his depression & self-esteem issues).  As their paths cross, the storylines cross and we see both sides of their journey.  Immediately, I was sucked into their stories, wondering how their paths would cross.  Both characters were accessible from the start; I was a little concerned about the depths of depression Levithan wrote about, but the further I read, the more understanding I had for his biological and environmental triggers.

Really, this collaboration works.  It works as a story.  More importantly, it works to compare the lives of young men whose lives aren’t really that different after all; they just approach problems from different perspectives.   In the end, aren’t we all looking for unconditional love from those closest to us?

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 10 and up

Cover Art: Eh, a burst of red light from a black background, not really an attention-getter.  But I had to do a double-take to see if the title was just Will Grayson or if was doubled as the type was superimposed.  (All the intriguing background images DID NOT pop on my library copy as they do in this picture of the cover).  IMHO, I think the authors’ reputations will put this book into the most hands.

From Reading Lists: Sexual Identity, Best Books for Young Adults (YALSA) nominee 2010

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  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Jul 22, 2017)
    Hidden Category Remove a letter from each of the words below and rearrange the remaining letters to form new words. The 10 words will all fall into a certain category. For example, given the words DEAR, ANGRY, and RENEGE, you could drop the "A" in DEAR to get RED, drop the "N" in ANGRY to get GRAY, and drop an "E" in RENEGE to g […]
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