Will Grayson, Will Grayson

John Green David Levithon. Will Grayson, Will Grayson. New York: Dutton Books, 2010.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Audience: The audience this book is directed towards is ages 14 to 18 (grades 9th through 12th)

Read-Alouds: My Read Aloud : )

Summary: The novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson features two characters that ironically share the same name and ultimately end up helping each other through problems many teens deal with while they try and find their place in this world.  The characters have different family lives, different groups of friends, their sexual preference differs, but through all of the differences they realize the insecurities they feel on a day to day basis are more than familiar.  The straight will Grayson has a small group of friends, comes from a well off family, and deals with the struggles many young men face when beginning relationships with the opposite sex.  The gay Will Grayson has few friends (that he keeps at a distance), lives with only his mother who works to make ends meet, and finds out what it’s like to be openly gay in high school while, trying to have his first real relationship with another man.  When their lives intersect they find an unexpected comfort amongst each other and they help each other through the issues that often occur throughout the text.

Themes:
Young love: One theme i felt that was incredibly prominent throughout this novel was young love.  Though the Will Grayson’s do not have the same sexual preference they each encountered the struggle that usually comes along with romantic relationships at a young age.  Straight will Grayson always had two rules 1. Shut up 2. Don’t care; When he met a girl that made him forget these two rules he was faced with the issue of letting down his guard or losing a girl he truely cared about.  Gay Will Grayson never let people get close to him until he met the first boy that he let down his guard for.  When this boy turned out to be a cruel joke he was distraught until he met Tiny, a boy completely opposite from himself but he found himself in his first real relationship with this boy.  Experiencing what it felt like to be openly gay in high school and, eventually the pain his first break up, he realized letting people in was part of growing up and finding the person who makes him happier was a struggle he was willing to face.
The importance of family: Both of the Will Grayson’s had vastely different family lives.  Straight Will Grayson lived with both a mother and father who worked as doctor’s and lived quite comfortable, while gay Will Grayson lived with his single mother who worked to make ends meet for Will and herself.  Though they had different households neither of them had a strong bond with their parents and would withdraw from anything family related.  When new feelings and attitudes began to arise for both of the boys they slowly began relying on their parents for support and as a reader one saw relationships developed that had never been their before.  By the end of the novel a whole new appreciation for parental roles could be seen and they both relied on them to help them through day to day issues and confided in them when they felt they had no one else to rely on.
Friendship: At the beginning of the novel both Will Grayson’s had that one friend that had always been their and assumed would always be their.  Tiny was Straight Will Grayson’s friend from when he was a child that he referred to as “the friend that he did not pick to be his friend”: Maura was gay Will Grayson’s friend that he had known for a year or so that provided him with sheer annoyance but comforted him in knowing he had at least one person that he could fall back on.  Both of these character’s were taken for granted by the Will Grayson’s until a falling out occurred for both of them.  Once gone they realized how important to their lives these friend’s were and losing them left them more hopeless then when they were present.  They began to understand the efforts of a friendship and how important it is to maintain relationships with the people that they love the most, both romantically and platonic.

Connections: The classic connection I can make with this book and other young Adult lit books is the romantic aspect for each of the Wills.  Many novels for this age group include a romantic partner or the search for a romantic partner.  Though, one will is straight and the other openly gay they still strive for happiness due to a significant other and face the inner struggle that comes along with it.  The platonic relationships that appear in this text is also a connection that can be made with the readers of this age group.  Finding your place not only in high school but on a grander scale in general.  This is also a typical theme throughout novels for this age group and i feel it is important students understand they are not the only ones who feel this kind of pressure but many do at this age.

Reactions: This book was brilliant.  The way the two authors worked together to create this individual characters that ended up crossing paths and worked together so well was pure genius.  The two Will Grayson’s were constructed in a manner that you felt like you were sitting with them while they were working out issues they faced.  When reading the chapters i would get so into one of the characters that flipping to the next chapter would be hard, but once i began the next chapter I would become attached to the other Will Grayson and I would struggle with having to go back to the first Will Grayson.  I feel as though by the ending you were happy that the characters finally found peace within themselves and I genuinely enjoyed being part of their lives for 310 pages.

Reception:
On the internet sit GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6567017-will-grayson-will-grayson) 
Arlene, a young adult reader, thoroughly enjoyed this novel.  She saw the characters and fresh and new; they were incredibly real and the descriptions were vivid and made the readers think in a whole new way.  She emphases the fact that the language was intense at times and foul and that some of the text could be seen as offensive, but states that those traits made it an intriguing read. “Wow! What did I just finish reading? I don’t know whether to cringe, cry, walk away baffled, or sing from the top of the mountain in a musical-esque crescendo BRILLIANT! The writing was refreshing, edgy, raw, and offensive at times but never off the mark.”

Another reader on the same site, Mark, was not as satisfied with the text as Arlene was.  From what i gather he saw no huge crescendo with the characters and he felt their should have been a more prominent change in the characters by the end of the novel.  He does give Levithan credit for a slight change in Gay Will Grayson thanks to tiny, but he was hoping for a more notable change in Greens portrayal of Will Grayson.  “I think one of my biggest disappointments, which might be my own fault for having unrealistic expectations, is that I expected a much more dramatic change in the lives of these two teens. After they meet, Levithan’s Will certainly has a change, simply because he meets Tiny. But for the other Will, I felt I was left scratching my head on how he was really affected. I know things got rough with Tiny, but I feel that was going to happen with Tiny’s play happening anyway.”

 

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7 Responses to Will Grayson, Will Grayson

  1. Amanda, I like how you talked about getting sucked into the characters reading each chapter. I know exactly what you mean. When I first read it, part of me wanted to just read all the odd chapters and then go back and read all the even chapters so I could read one Will Grayson’s story and then the other’s, but you really need both stories to make it whole. The theme of family is important, and often overlooked since the parents play such minor roles, so I’m glad you brought it up in your discussion. I’m also glad you showed us both positive and negative reactions to the book.

    I’m looking forward to your read alouds:)

  2. And might i add Rebekah, this is the first book i read from cover to cover in years : ) you should be so proud!! lol

  3. I am proud of you, but I can’t watch your video ’cause it’s marked private:( Please let buchananvid have access to your video, or make it public. Thanks.

  4. ok you should be able to see it now : )

  5. Saw the video–nice job. I was a bit disappointed that there were no pictures of Marilyn visible.

  6. I’ll make sure she’s in it for next time!!

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