Book Talk #2: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Posted: March 15, 2013 in On Novels
Tags: , , , , , ,

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’m not going to lie, when I discovered that our assignment in adolescent lit this week was to read a LGBT book, I wasn’t sure what to think. Before you think I’m some ignorant xenophobe, I mean that choosing a book out of the lot was kind of like drawing a name out of a hat. I did no research on any of them, read no synopsis, and did no Wiki-ing. The only thing I went on was the fact that everyone I’ve talked to in my classes had nothing but good things to say about John Green. So, Will Grayson, Will Grayson was my choice. I went in totally blind (not something I’m accustomed to doing in any situation), and it paid off.

So, what’s happening here?

So, the story alternates every chapter between two different dudes named, wait for it… Will Grayson. The odd numbered chapters were written by John Green while the evens were David Levitthan’s work (I, personally, enjoyed Green’s chapters more, but I digress). The story, despite having both Graysons as protagonists, centers around a 6’6″ hulking mass of a gay man named Tiny Cooper – tiny, obviously, being a fine example of irony here. Will Grayson #1 spends all his time pretending he’s too cool to care about anything and also being yanked around by everyone around him, and Will Grayson #2 spends all of his time being seemingly bi-polar or manic depressive, on top of being wildly anti-social and a little bit gay.

With Tiny Cooper’s help, both of these Will Graysons will become better men who are more comfortable with who they are – just neither of them know it yet. In fact, the two Will Graysons don’t even start off knowing the other exists. And Tiny Cooper – Tiny Cooper is pretty much summed up by the word “fabulous”. Not like Big-Gay-Al-from-South-Park fabulous, but like a genuine “I-want-to-make-the-world-a-better-place-and-I-yam-who-I-yam” fabulous. He and Will Grayson #1 are best friends (though their relationship goes through some rough patches), and with Grayson #1’s help, Tiny hopes to put on a musical (directed produced choreographed etc) by himself called.. wait for it.. Tiny Dancer. This is gold, people.

Throw in complicated love interests for both sets of Will Graysons, strained relationships with parents, and a lot of indie band references, and you’ve got yourself quite a journey.

Above: not unrelated

Why’s this worth talking about?

This book is like the total package, man. Everyone in this book has a problem, it’s not like it’s a book trying to impress upon us the plight of LGBT people. It’s a book trying to show us that being a person is tough for everyone. Plus, it has quite the colorful cast. Odd, punk-rocky chicks, antisocial gay men, hugely social gay men, quintessential goth girl, math nerds, and of course the dude that doesn’t know where he belongs.

This book has the issues man. Coping with a mental illness, dealing with heartbreak, teenage love confusion and /or triangles, estranged relationships with parents, absence of parents, no self-esteem, and being afraid to take chances. Sweet jesus, it’s like high school all over again. Oh, and since I’ve mentioned it in pretty much every other blog about YA books, there is finally swearing in abundance. All of the favorite words are here. Like, some in a bit of excess.

You will find something to relate to in this book. I promise. Regardless of your sexual preference. That’s what makes it so damn good of a read. Regardless of whether you like the characters, most of the major ones are all fleshed out, and even go through some pretty big changes. DYNAMIC CHARACTERS, people. The Will Graysons you start with are not the ones you end with. One other cool thing about this book is that there’s no big villain character. There’s no one guy / girl who’s just a tremendous dick to everyone and serves as the antagonist that causes everyone problems. LIFE is the antagonist. That’s some real talk there.

Above: artist’s rendition of dynamic characters

The Verdict:

I know for a fact at least 2 of my classmates chose this same book to read, and I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts about it. Me? I loved this book. The only parts I felt iffy about were the parts from Grayson 2’s perspective, but it was more the writing style than the actual story itself. There weren’t any parts I can really think of that I hated. All the indie-band talk felt kind of like it was trying too hard to me, BUT that was part of a character’s personality, it wasn’t just the author being like “hey look at how much I know about shit no one cares about”. My recommendation to you, dear reader – is to read this. Read it, read it, read it – it’ll take you 2-3 hours tops, and you will regret none of it.



  1. I so love this post. WGWG is one of my top 10 all-time favorite YA novels, and it makes me happy whenever anyone else appreciates the fabulosity that is Tiny Cooper. I need an I Heart Tiny Cooper t-shirt!

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