Green, John and Levithan, David. (2010). Will Grayson, Will Grayson. New York, NY: Dutton Books.
Collaborative novel-writing is challenging and often obvious, but in this case, the authors work together brilliantly. In alternating chapters, two different Will Graysons—one gay, one straight—go about their lives, circling closer and closer to meeting, and when they do, their lives intertwine in surprising ways. Since each author writes one character, the points of view are distinctive, from the inner voices to the motives and expressions.
Although romantic queer love is normalized and celebrated, it is by no means the only kind of love represented in this book. There are deep, loving male friendships, family relationships, and both heterosexual and queer romantic relationships that range from asexual to serial monogamy. I really appreciated the diversity in the gay characters, and the complexity within individual characters. There are a lot of feelings in this book, and as is appropriate for the ages of the characters feeling them, they are confusing, strong, and change rapidly.
For me, the most interesting character was not either of the Will Graysons, but one of their friends, Tiny Cooper. In fact, I saw him as the real protagonist, despite the title of the book and focus of the chapters. Tiny is somewhat stereotypical, in that he’s a flamer who uses words like “fabulous” and is actually writing a musical about himself. But he’s a very multifaceted character who also happens to be the best football player in the high school, is a warm and caring friend, and has a non-normative body that he sometimes feels awkward about. Because there is such a range of personalities, I liked that Tiny was so unabashedly fabulous. He’s not hewing to a stereotype; he just really likes Elton John.
John Green and David Levithan both have well-deserved praise for their growing list of YA novels. They are engaging writers, and collaboratively, they have crafted a really unique and interesting story. Will Grayson, Will Grayson was an American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards Honor Book in 2011. I recommend it to the wide YA audience; I think any young adult reader will find a character in this book that they can relate to.