Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan
“You know what’s a great metaphor for love? Sleeping beauty. Because you have to plow through this incredible thicket of thorns in order to get to beauty, and even then, when you get there, you still have to wake her up."
There are two Will Graysons. I will call them Will Grayson 1 and Will Grayson 2. Will Grayson 1 (written by John Green) has two rules in life that help him cope: 1) Don't care too much. 2) Shut up. It has kept him protected so far, but that is very difficult to do when you are best friends with Tiny Cooper, the largest, gayest friend a person could have, who cares with every fiber of his being, and lets everyone know it. Will Grayson 2 (written by David Levithan) protects himself with a shield of bitterness and scorn. The one person he allows himself to be vulnerable with is a boy named Issac who he met on the internet. When he and Issac decide to meet, the worlds of both Will Graysons collide, and they both must decide whether it is better to protect yourself, or to risk it all and tell the truth.
I loved this book! Maybe not as much as Every Day, but more than Paper Towns, I think. Levithan's Will Grayson is harsher, more jagged than the protagonist in Everyday. He has closed himself off from everyone, and is only kind and vulnerable with Issac. That is what draws us to him; we glimpse the man he could be. John Green's Will Grayson doesn't seem like your typical John Green protagonist either. He is more repressed. He too has closed himself off, and limited his life by not risking, not speaking the truth. Yes, he falls in love with a girl (Jane), but she is not the usual manic pixie dream girl John Green writes. She is softer, a quieter support for him, and she compliments him nicely.
The real manic pixie dream girl is Tiny Cooper. He is fan-frikkin-tastic. He is huge and loving and wants to make the world a better place... and better than that, he actually tries to do it every day. He makes big bold moves, the latest of which is to write the gayest of musicals about himself to be performed at his school, and the school rallies around him. Though we soon discover that he has his dark points as well.
Tiny Cooper and the two Will Graysons (and Jane) wrestle with living truthfully versus protecting yourself from hurt. With need and vulnerability versus appearing weak. Feeling nothing versus feeling everything. Both writers bring the best of themselves to the table and create a compelling duet of pain and joy. Initially I liked John Green's half better until the heart of Levithan's half broke open beautifully.
I highly recommend if for John Green and David Levithan fans, as well as anyone struggling with opening yourself to the world.
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Every Day by David Levithan
Looking for Alaska by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Ok For Now by Gary Schmidt