Book Review: Will friendship survive in “Will Grayson, Will Grayson?”

During our sabbatical from wifi, I read a book that I started with very neutral, uninterested expectations. I just picked it off my self because I had nothing else to do. To be honest, it was one of those books I was gifted one year and I forgot about it on purpose. It didn’t sound that interesting. What I didn’t know then was that I was in for a roller-coaster of a ride. It took me slightly less than eight hours to read it all, but I couldn’t put it down. The book stayed glued to my hands as I lived through Will Grayson.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” is a young adult novel written by John Green and David Levithan that has a strong LGBTQ+ theme. It was published in April of 2010 and debuted on The New York Times children’s best-seller list for three weeks.

The book follows two teenage boys–both named Will Grayson–and how their lives cross paths. Each author writes from one of the Will Graysons’ perspective and the book’s structure is set up with alternating chapters.

The first Will has made it his mission in life to live unnoticed. He has two rules he always follows and it keeps him safe. What doesn’t help is that he is stuck with a best friend, Tiny Cooper, who completely lives by the opposite of those rules. Tiny Cooper is, “the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” So while Will is trying to disappear into the the hallways at school, Tiny is living his best life trying to create and put on an autobiographical musical called “Tiny Dancer: The Tiny Cooper Storyto educate his school.

The other Will Grayson goes through his life living with depression. The only light in his life is the online relationship he has with Issac, his sorta-boyfriend/crush. Determined to finally meet Isaac after talking with him online for a year, Will makes plans to meet him in Chicago. Once in Chicago, a turn of events causes the Wills to cross paths and shatter one’s reality. What ensues brings their worlds together and changes their lives, making them different people altogether. The book then culminates into possibly the “most epic musical ever to grace the high school stage” and the back of the book states.

The first Will Grayson’s narrative is written with proper capitalization. The other Will Grayson’s narrative is all lower cased. This is a really well chosen literary technique because it separates the characters far more into their own people. In “A Conversation Between John Green and David Levithan” in the back of the book Levithan explains why he chose this for the other Will Grayson. The reason the other Will “writes in lowercase is simple—that’s how he sees himself. He is a lowercase person. He is used to communicating online, where people are encouraged to be lowercase people.”

And Levithan takes it a step further when he writes the other Will’s narrative because he uses punctuation and font size to really communicate what Will is feeling. For example, at one point Will exclaims “no” over multiple times, but instead of writing it as “no no no no no no no,” it is written as “no no no no no no no no.”

One other aspect that I really enjoyed was the idea of friendship through the whole book. For the first Will Grayson his friendship with Tiny Cooper is scattered at best and non-existent at worst. Each of them do things right and make mistakes along the way, but it is never the main goal. It sneaks in on Will and that makes is more interesting for the reader to follow. For the other Will Grayson, the one friend he has at the beginning of the book, Maura, does something unforgivable and they fall out of the very limited relationship they had. In his mind, Will never really considered Maura a friend, she was just there. Each Will learns that friendship and relationships can create change, break, cause differences or even conflict and each Will is made into a better person for it.

“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” takes a look into the lives of two teenagers by the same name and how their meeting changed the course of their lives for the better. It was very inventive and unique to use more than just the words on the page to portray the characters. And the use of friendship and relationships in the book caused the characters to learn new things about themselves, which in turn caused them to become better friends and people.

With how my personality is, I don’t often vocalize my emotions, but this book had me laughing out loud, tearing up and rooting for the characters. It was one of the best books I have read in a little while and it has earned itself a permanent place on my bookshelf. I would recommend this to a younger adult audience and anyone who is a fan of the authors’ other work. If you were a fan of the TV show “Dash & Lily” this holiday season, I think you’ll definitely like this book as well!