Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Book is for high school students similar in age to the characters of the book (14-18).
Read aloud: Youtube video
Summary: The book revolves around two main characters both named Will Grayson. One Will Grayson is from a northern suburb near Chicago, and the other will grayson is from a suburb further away from Chicago. Both Will and will are struggling with concepts of love and friendship until they meet each other in Chicago by a random chance. Will Grayson’s friend Tiny becomes friends with will grayson and they quickly develop a passionate relationship. The rest of the story plays out with both Will Graysons finding out about love and what it means to be in a relationship with a lover.
Themes: One theme that stands out in this book is identity. Will Grayson has a lot of internal conflict where he is trying to find out who he is as a person. In the beginning of the book, he always sticks to his two rules of not caring and shutting up. Towards the middle, he realizes that he cannot live a happy life if he is to continue on living by these rules. He ends up becoming a different person who actually cares about what other people are thinking and he starts expressing his feelings more. will grayson also struggles with identity, as we can see by examining his chats with Tiny. will really opens up with Tiny, and Tiny works hard to help will see that there is a different person inside of will than what he projects on the surface.
Another undeniable theme in this book is love. Will Grayson struggles with feelings of love for the opposite gender (Jane Turner), as well as platonic love for his best friend Tiny. will grayson struggles with love a lot as well. He has to come to the harsh realization that his love interest Isaac is only an imaginary character made by his friend Maura. He also has problems with love for his mother. Throughout the book, will is short with his mother and it may seem like he does not like her, but I believe that he loves his mother more than anyone in the world and part of finding himself comes with finding his love for his mother.
Connections: I think that this book is a great book to teach in the classroom. Almost every student has struggles with love or having a crush and there are lots of examples of that in this book. It also shows that homosexuals have feelings too. The struggles that will grayson has with Isaac and Tiny are not all that different from normal heterosexual couples’ problems. I believe that students will be able to relate more to homosexuals and hopefully become more tolerant as they see that those who they think are different are actually quite similar after all.
I also think that this book would be under a lot of pressure and might be contended or banned by the school I try to teach it at. I understand why some people would not want their children reading it, so I must be prepared to defend it whenever I decided to implement it into my lesson plans.
Reactions: To steal words from Tiny Cooper, I believe that this book was absolutely fabulous. I have always been all for unconditional love, whether it be heterosexuality or homosexuality. This book shows that no matter who we think is attractive, we are all fools for love. I have never had a gay friend, but I always knew that what they go through with relationships must be the same as what I go through. This book proves it, and even I could relate to the problems that will grayson goes through in his adventure through finding himself and his love. I love love, and this book shows that all love is beautiful.
Reception: Most people’s reviews I have read seem to like the book, with the exception of a few haters in those anonymous comment sections. One review I liked was by thebooksmugglers.com. The reviewer, Ana, shared my thoughts about the ending of the book. She calls it “a love- it or hate- it kind of ending. Part of me loves it because of its over the top cheesy grandeur.” I also like how she says that the book deals so well with important issues that the ending does not do justice to how amazing the entire book actually is.
Another opinion she had was about Tiny Cooper. She says “I have no doubt that most of the reactions to Will Grayson, Will Grayson will be directly connected to the reader’s connection or not, with Tiny Cooper”. I think that this is true because Tiny takes up a lot of the story. If the reader cannot connect with Tiny or does not like him, they will not enjoy the book at all.