“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson • Young adult fiction

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Just out! April 2010  Dutton  Ages 14 and up
Meet Will Grayson and Will Grayson—two teens who meet accidentally and discover that a name isn’t the only thing they share.
Story:  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. Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.
Story behind the story:  Just published on April 6th, Will Grayson, Will Grayson has already landed on the New York Times Bestseller List (#3 Children's Hardcover Fiction).  What is it about this book that's prompted Jennifer Brown of Shelf Awareness to write that "this may well be the best novel that either John Green (Paper Towns) or David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, with Rachel Cohn) has written"? (And that's a very tall order!)  David Levithan explains a bit about where the idea for this story about big-hearted love, finding yourself in adolescence and learning about friendship and acceptance originated:  "Two boys with the same name – that’s how the idea for Will Grayson, Will Grayson began. I’ve always been fascinated with this kind of duality, since one of my best friends is named David Leventhal. I knew I didn’t want to write both characters myself, so I asked my friend John Green if he’d be interested in being the other character....One Will Grayson (John’s) is scared of emotion and scarred by love. The other will grayson (mine) is angry, bitter, and, deep down inside, really wanting to be in love and in life....And Will’s best friend, Tiny, entirely steals the show. I won’t say anything more than that, but I hope you really enjoy it."

Now, as John Green says, "Storytime!"  Here's Green talking about -- and then reading from -- the book just a few days before publication:
"Based on the premises that "love is tied to truth" and "being friends, that's just something you are," this powerful, thought-provoking, funny, moving, and unique plot is irresistible." -- School Library Journal, starred review

"Two superstar authors pair up and really deliver the goods, dishing up a terrific high-energy tale of teen love, lust, intrigue, anger, pain, and friendship threaded with generous measures of comedy and savvy counsel." -- Booklist, starred review

"Green and Levithan craft an intellectually existential, electrically ebullient love story that brilliantly melds the ridiculous with the realistic. In alternating chapters from Will and will, each character comes lovingly to life, especially Tiny Cooper, whose linebacker-sized, heart-on-his-sleeve personality could win over the grouchiest of grouches." -- Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Read an excerpt

Read a Q&A with the authors included in this discussion guide (and don't miss the Character Karaoke and other activities).

But, most importantly, read it.

FYI: all the review copies for this title have been sent; please check back on the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say.


Audrey said...

Thanks for turning me onto Will Grayson. The story looks very intriguing and I know my nephew will enjoy the book. My ten year-old daughter is loving Sewing a Friendship, by Natalie Tinti. She has read a lot of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and tells me this is similar to that series. I like this story because it's about getting along with others. Perfect for older girls. You should check it out!

Anonymous said...

Picnic basket 5 out of 5.

Fantastic! The interweaving of the stories of the Will Graysons is perfection. It is wonderful for teens to have two perspectives of basically the same problems. The Wills are strong, likable characters that any teen would love to hang out with. Love it, love it, love it! (and I don't say that about books a lot). The only disappointment was the ending, which felt a little distant. But is that because I loved the characters so much and was sorry to see them leave? Perhaps.

A Children's Librarian

loonyhiker said...

I would have to rate this book 1 out of 5. In the area that I live in, I believe parents and school administrators would not allow this book in the school library. The sexual content and the language is too strong for students in this area. It also seemed to encourage underage drinking and fake IDs. I'm not sure that I would want my students reading this because it would bring up discussions that are not allowed in my classroom.

Pat Hensley
South Carolina

Dawn said...

I have to agree with loonyhiker--a 1. I'm disappointed. I can't even feel good about giving this book away due to the language. I don't even want to know how many times the "F" word was used--once is too many in my opinion but I can overlook/read over an occasional profanity. But this was tooooooo much. Too bad. I loved Paper Towns and scanned back through it to see if perhaps I had just forgotten the language--maybe I did.

Anonymous said...


I enjoyed meeting Will Grayson(s). John Green and David Levithan know how to connect with teen emotions and experiences. Some of the epiphanies had by the respective Will Graysons were truly insightful. I liked the change of perspective each chapter. Both Will Graysons come to a realization about themselves and the world around them.

I didn't like the bad language (I know everyone says it is realistic, but that doesn't mean I want to hear it). And I can see how people would be turned off by the homosexuality issues. (And I have to add that I love Tiny!)

But, that being said, this is a great book for mature teens.

Heather Hart, Children's Librarian

Heather Hill said...

"Will Grayson, Will Grayson" was a great read! I loved the way the story switched between the 2 Wills, met in the middle, diverged again, and then came full circle. Tiny's play was awesome and Tiny brought some comic relief to the Will's.
I do agree that the language is adult, but it would be a shame to simply not read this book because of that. High schoolers and older are the appropriate audience for this unique, great book. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Heather Hill, Reading Specialist
Enterprise Elementary
Woodbridge, VA

ahslibrarian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahslibrarian said...

I successfully put off reading Will Grayson Will Grayson for several months. I found that I could put it down after picking it up, yet I wanted to read it. I wanted to read it because it sings loudly for a population in our schools that is all too often unrecognized. Many communities (mine included) would not hesitate to limit access and discussion of the subject matter, let alone the book. The reasons cited for exclusion are often without limit, but the most troublesome excuse rests in a denial of reality, or the fact that it is not “our” reality.

The beauty of Will Grayson Will Grayson extends far beyond the rough language and sexuality. The story addresses some basic issues of self-worth that are essential to one’s development as a human being: How does one love, or can/should one love another, even if they are the same sex? How does this love manifest itself outside of a sexual relationship? How do we acknowledge our own doubts, fears and feelings?

Much of the novel’s dialogue is hacked out in text messages and IM chat sessions that depict the urgency of the feedback that moves the characters through a whirlwind of doubt and varying emotional states. In a world that is based on a friend list, a lingering response introduces more than doubt. The short bursts of text help to propel the reader along at a pace that is in tune with the characters and the overall plot.

I was unsure that the development of a gay musical would lend anything credible to the story, but the final scene made the wait worthwhile and erased any doubts. Good art, in any form interacts with its audience, but great art (and literature) moves spontaneously into the area of active participation. Authors Green and Levithan orchestrated a noteworthy ending where multiple members of the audience rose to their feet and stated, “I am Will Grayson.”

Certainly there are others who will rise and identify with Will Grayson when they read the book. They may be our students, or even our sons and daughters. Others will stand, but not for the same reasons. They will stand in support of those who yearn to discover and measure their own worth in a world that denies or suppresses the Wills and Tinys in every way possible.

Libraries serving high school students should add Will Grayson Will Grayson to their shelves.

5 of 5

John Parker
Media Coordinator
Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901


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The intertwining stories of the Graysons will is perfect. It's great for teenagers to have two points of view, basically the same problems.
I liked the change from the perspective of each chapter. Graysons Both will come to an understanding of themselves and the world around them.

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