Will Grayson, Will Grayson

What a great gay book!  I wish there were gay books like this to read when I was a teen.  The first gay novel I read was when I was 18.  I was in the Marines and a friend in the barracks loaned me a copy of Rita Mae Brown latest book, Sudden Death, which I kept locked up in my wall locker when I wasn’t home and then only read when my roommates weren’t around and the door was locked.  It was a relief to return the incriminating book when I was finished.  I’m so thankful times have changed.

John Green and David Levithan have written an excellent novel that spent some time on The New York Times best-seller list when it was released last April.  I hope it finds an even bigger audience when it’s released in paperback on April 5, 2011.

I first heard about the book on Lee Wind’s fabulous blog I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?  After seeing it there I noticed it on display at just about every bookstore I went into last spring/summer.  So I put it on my to be read list for this year and after a short wait was able to download it as an eBook from my public library.

I loved, loved, loved the book.  It is funny and serious and took me back (in some ways) to my own snarky high school years and even helped me see the teens that are currently in my life at a slightly different angle.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two boys who share the name Will Grayson.  One is gay, one is straight. They both have their own challenges and their own friends (sort of) and one day they unexpectedly meet under realistic circumstances in the strangest of ways.  One Will is from Evanston, IL and the other from Naperville, IL.

Prior to the boys’ unexpected meeting one night in Chicago, we get pieces of what their daily lives are like. The novel has two narrators whose stories are told in alternating chapters.  To help the reader keep things, um, straight, one Will’s chapters are all in lower case (Naperville Will) and the other uses conventional capitalization for names, etc (Evanston Will).  Yes, if you’re wondering, e.e. cummings is mentioned in the novel.  The Wills and their friends are wracked with the pains and angsts of American teenager-hood.  And like all teenagers, they are unique as well.

Another major character, and perhaps the one who’ll steal the show for some readers, is Tiny Cooper, Evanston Will’s big, gay, and very out friend who is the star of their lame football team.  The not-so-tiny Tiny has written a musical about his life, but along the way he realizes its not about him.  Much of the action of the novel revolves around the production of Tiny’s play and there are two (or more) budding romances: one gay, one straight. Was the novel being written before or after Glee’s success?  I don’t know.  But don’t avoid or read Will Grayson, Will Grayson because of its Glee-like high school musical connections; it is entirely its own animal.

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