Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.
I am steadily working my way through the entire canon of John Green and David Levithan. I think I’m somewhere at five each.
This book had a great premise and it didn’t disappoint. For the most part. I really enjoyed this book, but I had the same issue with it that I did with Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy. It seems a terrible thing to say there’s not enough anti-homosexuality sentiment in the two books, but there’s not. While I love that these characters get to exist in a world where no one is constantly insulting them and bullying them because of their sexual orientation. It’s not realistic. And as there aren’t a heck of a lot of YA novels about homosexual characters, it’s hard to defend a complete department from realism. People love to read characters they can relate to. I’m not sure what gay teenager can really relate to Tiny Cooper, except as maybe something to aspire to? I’m not sure.
With that out of the way, I can discuss the things I liked. One of the things that was really great about this novel was that, despite the title, the novel is really about Tiny Cooper. Will Grayson and Will Grayson narrate the whole thing and have their own stories, but only in the intersection of the two characters, do we see the protagonist beyond.
I liked how Will Grayson and other Will Grayson (o.w.g.) ended up being very different, but sort of the same. Will Grayson tries to repress all his feelings about everything and o.w.g. is depressed, so his social life is so non-existent he seems as if he’s repressing everything, too. The interesting thing is that, once o.w.g. meets Tiny Cooper, his life starts to flip around and much faster than one would expect. So suddenly you get this idea of Will Grayson as the more destructive individual, instead of o.w.g.
Another nice touch in the novel is that o.w.g.’s sections are written either in AIMspeak or the lingo of the internet. So, run-on sentences, no capitals, little punctuation, certainly no quotes. This helps to make the contrast of the latter part of the novel that much more apparent.
John Green is so great at writing these absolutely insane, larger-than-life characters. Tiny Cooper is such a character. Like Augustus, Alaska, and Margo, Tiny Cooper is one of those characters you wish were real so you could be their best friend. Seriously, these characters are fantastic.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a solid offering from two of YA contemporary fiction’s best authors. Also, the version I took the image of, includes a commentary from the two in the back, which is just fabulous and so worth reading.
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Love is never easy. Especially if you’re Paul. He’s a sophomore at a high school like no other– and these are his friends:
Infinite Darlene, the homecoming queen and star quarterback
Joni, Paul’s best friend who may not be his best friend anymore
Tony, his other best friend, who can’t leave the house unless his parents think he’s going on a date…with a girl
Kyle, the ex-boyfriend who won’t go away
Rip, the school bookie, who sets the odds….
And Noah, The Boy. The one who changes everything.
I’ve been wanting to read another Levithan book since I read The Lover’s Dictionary. While I was at the library, I grabbed this and another Levithan book on the shelf. I was also hoping to read a book about the experience of gay teens and young adults. I haven’t read one since Absolute Brightness (which I need to re-read, so I can properly review it, but I remember it being exquisite!) by James Lecesne.
I’ll admit, I almost gave up on this book because it was so far outside of what I was expecting. It’s not really a spoiler since it says it right on the back of the book (which I didn’t carefully read), but Paul’s world is not really like our world. His school is populated by openly gay, lesbian, and bi characters. There are even characters who cross-dress. And nobody makes fun of them. There is none of the homophobia one would expect in a novel about teens outside the status quo.
If you think about it, it’s kind of sad that that was the reason I almost gave up. Because it was too idealized. Because it looked too much like how the world should be.
In the novel, the only characters who display any sort of homophobia, are Tony’s super-religious parents. I could dissect that as well, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, Boy Meets Boy isn’t your average book.
Once I got past the initial shock of Paul’s world, I was hooked by Levithan’s unique story-telling voice. Like his compatriot, John Green, Levithan knows how to create vivid characters. And to make first love appear every bit as poignant as we remember it to be.
As The Lover’s Dictionary was written for adults, this novel lacks a lot of that particular brand of charm. But where Levithan waxes poetic, one could easily decry it as melodramatic. Or, you could roll with it. As I did. And it’s beautiful.
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that, contrary to this utopia-land Levithan drops us in, not everything turns up rainbows. Not everyone is happy or satisfied at the end. Not every relationship is repaired. Which makes this novel all the more delightful. The collision of idealism with realism.
Have any of you read it? What did you think? I was surprised I liked it as much as I did—I could easily have seen myself swinging the other way.
This week’s TTT covers ten blog posts (on your blog!) that give the best picture of you as a reader and/or a person. As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.
I feel a little awkward with this one, as I’m writing a big ‘ol braggo post (but that is kind of sort of what blogging is, yes?)
1. My Extended About Me. Kind of an obvious choice.
2. This is a super recent post, but I think this short story is really representative of my writing.
3. On the same note, I wrote a short play two years ago and performed it at an open mic with my friend. I don’t do vlogs or anything or the sort, so this is your one and only (for the moment) chance to see me live. Haha.
4. And again, a little bit of flash fiction I threw up on the blog.
5. Favorite Book: Shadow of the Wind
6. Favorite Book: Hyperion
7. Favorite Book: Plainsong
8. Favorite Book: The Fault in Our Stars
9. Favorite Book (This and the afore-mentioned only represent a small portion of the things I love dearly): The Lover’s Dictionary
10. Most amazing motivational speech ever, by Neil Gaiman.
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.
Rarely am I ever so lucky to read two books worth raving about in a row. I read this one in forty-five minutes. Now, I’m a fast reader— I read upwards of a page a minute. But this was FAST. I felt like I was hurtling inexorably towards something as I was reading it. Like the book had something to tell me and I knew the answer to everything I ever wanted to know was in there. I read and read and read, and when the last page came, I stubbed my toe, and went, what happened?
This is a book you will read over and over. I can tell I will. Because it’s the story of the human condition. Of us. Neither of our narrator’s have names. They have genders—male and female, but their gender often becomes fused and mixed-up in my mind. This is a book that must be taken in all at once. There’s no easy resting point and why would you want to? You can pick the book up at any page and read any damn way you please. Levithan alphabetized the entries, creating a non-linear story. And thus the book demands to be read as a whole, not in parts, or over a period of time. It’s like a wall of emotions and feeling coming at you. And you want it. You want it to drown in it.
I hate David Levithan for taking the best idea for a book ever and selling it. And doing it well. Basically, the abridged version of the inspiration for the story comes from a tradition he has. He always writes stories for Valentine’s day. But one year, he couldn’t. So he went to the dictionary and selected some words at random to make a story from. And The Lover’s Dictionary was born.
From The Lover’s Dictionary:
These words will ultimately end up being the barest of reflections devoid of the sensations words cannot convey. Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.
Super excited about my newest additions.
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
I Wrote This For You by Anonymous
The first one has such an awesome concept. Apparently, Levithan constructed a love story based around words he randomly picked from the dictionary and then alphabetized them so the narrative itself is out of order. This is a recent award winner, receiving the Alex Award, which is an award for adult books that appeal to teens.
For the second, I’ve been a long time follower of the site, I Wrote This For You . If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s heartbreaking, beautiful, and sad. This book is a collection of entries from the site, all posted by anonymous. Don’t miss it.