Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: The book is directed toward high school students, ages 14-18.
Read Aloud: Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Summary: Will Grayson, Will Grayson is told from the very different perspectives of Will Grayson (often referred to as o.w.g.), and will grayson (all lowercase letters). Both young men deal with issues of finding themselves and a path toward happiness, however the catalyst for each of them are polar opposites. Will Grayson is a privileged child of surgeons and has one true friend (Tiny), but initially, it seems as if he is merely stuck with him. The only other “friends” he mentions are former friends who are quite superficial, even in his description of their relationship. His awakening comes when he really needs Tiny, and he does not seem to be there. Lowercase will grayson is a child in a poor, single parent household with no friends he can truly be himself with. He is depressed and a homosexual although no one knows. When the two strangers meet by chance in an adult store, their lives change in powerful ways for the better.
Themes: This book itself is the coming of age story for high school students of this millennium. Green and Levithan continuously raise the question of “who am I?” in each of the characters which is very familiar for young adults everywhere. Aside from that, it also gives realistic voices to the young characters which would allow the students to feel as if the characters’ experiences are genuine (as far as how they handle or respond to things).
As a coming of age novel, the authors frequently raise the issue of love. It deals with issues of homosexuality and how it affects not only the gay person, but their friends as well and the authors handle it in a funny yet respectful manner. The novel gives insight on what it takes to love another person, same sex and otherwise, which would probably shed light on things for some students dealing with similar circumstances. Through the characters, the authors reveal the understanding and compassion people must have for themselves before they are capable of loving anyone else.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson, covers the idea of relationships as well. While it is similar to love, the two can be separate. The story covers platonic relationships between straight males and gay males, parent and child relationships, romantic and platonic relationships between a male and female, and a wide array of friendships between people. This is vital to teaching the book (and reading for students) because it shows how everything is not just black and white and despite how the media and society says things should be, they do not always turn out that way. The importance lies in children understanding that they are not “weirdly different” because their life is not like The Brady’s or The Huxtables. People operate and relate in numerous ways, and unless someone is constantly being hurt, they are all normal.
Connections: This book can be useful in teaching students how to differentiate voice. Because the authors chose to write from the perspective of two different narrators, it was very important for those characters’ voices to be distinct. When teaching Will Grayson, Will Grayson, teachers can physically pinpoint specific areas in the book where the characters are experiencing a similar situation, and show students how each character addresses it. Since will grayson is more erratic, he tends to over react more than his co-narrator, Will Grayson.
Reactions: I found this book hilarious and very entertaining to read. I liked how the authors discussed complicated issues like sexuality, mental health, and teen drinking in ways that did not preach at teens or “crucify” them. I also appreciated how they used references to facebook and other technologies that young people are so dependent on these days. The fact that it was set in Chicago was also a plus since it is my hometown; I was familiar with the neighborhoods and the streets they named.
Receptions: “Will Grayson, meet Will Grayson! Two very different dudes living in separate suburbs of Chicago, who have the same name and the same problems when it comes to matters of the heart. Fortunately, big, loud and flamboyantly gay Tiny Cooper is there to save the day. A funny and moving coming-of-age novel focusing on friendship, trial and error, love, longing, but most important of all, being true to yourself.”
Aline Dolinh, 12, thinks the book is well written although will grayson was a bit “too whiny” for her taste. She thought it was enjoyable and exhibited good examples of character development although all of the characters were not favorable. Aline recommends this book for children ages 12 and up.
For Aline’s full review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, visit this site.