Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
Hardcover: 9780525421580, $17.99, Penguin, Pub Date: April 2010
In my continued search for YA (and other) books that deal with sexuality issues in a positive light, I’m pleased as punch to now share with you my GBLTQQA pick for 2010.
For a teen audience, 14-18 year-olds, Will Grayson, Will Grayson embodies some prime characteristics for earning this title from me: notably, it’s funny, full of teen snarky brilliance, with accessible gay characters who aren’t necessarily depressed about that fact. Not everything is (excuse me) rainbows, but the drama comes not through struggles with depression, eating disorders, dysfunctional families, death, suicide, hate crimes, etc. etc., but from the rest of everyday teen interaction.
Told in alternating storylines, this novel is about the lives of two teenage guys, both named Will Grayson. One gay, one straight, both are struggling with their own issues in their own little universes. Little do they know, about halfway through this book, their worlds will collide, intersect, and bounce away again, having been irrevocably, permanently, and ultimately
positively altered. Both voices are unique and full of teenage snarky wisdom, with running commentaries on everything from male enhancement internet ads, parents, obscure bands, and the benefits (and detriments) of shutting up and speaking out. A perfect follow-up for audiences clamoring for books similar to My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger; while a very different story, the best similarity between the two books is the brilliant portrayal of the normalized
intersection of gay and straight teenage lifestyles, friendships, and relationships.
Need I mention that with the dynamic-duo co-authors of this book, it’s no surprise this novel has made the top of my list? Both Greene & Levithan have the superior ability to write about teens in a way that respects them, and the beautiful, crazy, inside-their-own-heads world they often live in, and enjoys discussing big and little life issues that pays equal homage to both. Longest run-on sentence of my life, but hopefully you get the point: these guys are good. Read ’em. And read Will Grayson, Will Grayson.