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Will Grayson, Will Grayson Hardcover – April 6, 2010
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Amazon Exclusive: David Levithan and John Green Talk About Names
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about two teenage boys with the same name, whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. The book originated with the thought of giving two different boys the same name, and to give that name some meaning. It also comes from David's own experience. So to give you an inside peek at the making of the book, we figured it would be fun to give you insight into our own names, as well as Will Grayson’s.
To my knowledge, there are only two other David Levithans in the world – my dad’s cousin, and a lawyer in South Africa who, as far as we can tell, isn’t family. The last name Levithan is actually the invention of an immigration official – when my great-grandfather came to America from Russia, it should have translated to Levitan. But somehow the h got in there. Now, whenever I meet another Levithan (which is rare), odds are good that he or she is related to me.
That said, the story of Will Grayson, Will Grayson came from someone whose name is close to mine, but not identical. David Leventhal went to Brown at the same time I did, and people would confuse us often.
This ended up being something of a joke, because David was an extraordinary dancer, while I was…not an extraordinary dancer. So people would exclaim, “We had no idea someone as clumsy as you could be so graceful on stage!” and I’d have to say, “Well, un, that wasn’t me.” Finally, right before graduation, I contacted David and we met up. We became instant friends, and when we both moved to New York after college, we were always in each other’s company. The similarity of our names often threw people for a loop… and I thought, well, that might make an interesting story.
Amusingly, David Leventhal’s college roommate’s name was . . . Jon Green.
I was named after my great-grandfather, John Michael Crosby, an itinerant minor-league baseball manager and occasional catcher. I like my name, but being a John Green can certainly be inconvenient, because there are a lot of us. Among many others, there is John Green the realtor in Mississippi (who owns johngreen.com, much to my chagrin), John Green the Australian botanist, and of course John Green the world-renowned Bigfoot scholar. This last John Green, who is so revered in the field of Bigfoot research that he is often called “one of the four horseman of Sasquatchery,” is kind of my mortal enemy. I once wrote a magazine article in which I passingly noted that Bigfoot is, you know, fictional, and John Green replied with a letter arguing that my anti-Bigfoot stance was besmirching the good name of John Greens everywhere.
Such is the curse of being a John Green. Or a Will Grayson, for that matter.
We decided that I (David) would choose our character’s first name, and John would choose his last name. I liked the name Will because of its different, sometimes contradictory, meanings. As a noun, it can be so strong – where there’s a will, there’s a way, and whatnot. But as a verb, it’s split. Sometimes it’s just as definite (It will be done!), but that definiteness is underscored by an uncertainty – you say it will be done, but it hadn’t been done yet, has it? And put it at the start of a question (“Will you still love me tomorrow?”) and it becomes the entrance for all kinds of vulnerability. That seemed right for the characters.
I liked Grayson because whenever I would hear that name, it always sounded to me like “grace in,” which always struck me as a richly ambiguous phrase – is “grace in” the beginning of a clause or the end of it? Are we being asked to find grace in something, or to let grace in? Those questions seemed like interesting ones for the guy I wanted to write about.
From School Library Journal
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Read the first two chapters, written by John Green and David Levithan.
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Top Customer Reviews
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story of two guys named Will Grayson: they are not related, they have close to nothing in common, and neither, in fact, knows that the other one exists. That is, until their volatile meeting in the middle of this book. In a porn store. In life-crumbling circumstances.
As usual with these two authors, the characters are realistically crafted and easy to relate to. There were times throughout the story that I felt myself nodding in sympathy or feeling vindictive hatred for the unfortunately dead-on portrayal of selfishness and angst that's common in most high school teenagers. What I love about these characters is that they are decidedly fluid individuals who learn life lessons and cry and hope and dissect situations to ridiculous extremes and hold grudges and appreciate love and friendship. This is the kind of book that reminds you what a coming of age tale is supposed to be.
My favorite character was Tiny Cooper. If I had to choose my favorite Will Grayson, I would choose Tiny Cooper. He was just that awesome. Tiny is the very large, very gay, and very fabulous best friend of John Green's Will Grayson. He has received funding from the student council in order to put on a musical he wrote himself called Tiny Dancer--which is, of course, all about Tiny Cooper. He is the show stealer of the book.
On the opposite end of the character spectrum, I never felt much of a connection with Jane, the love interest of John Green's Will Grayson.Read more ›
John Green and David Levithan have created a very unique, surprising, and downright hilarious novel. The book is told in alternating chapters, and it's very easy to distinguish which point of view each author is writing from. Their characters are so different, but at the same time the book is very cohesive and engaging. Green's Will is a lot like some of his previous characters: funny, self-deprecating, and a bit nerdy and self conscious, but he is a terrific friend and an honest person. Levithan's Will is a bit darker. He is lonely and depressed, and it's evident throughout most of the book that he is hurting and doesn't know how to be himself, or even be happy. Each Will possesses his own authentic voice, and the chapters flow seamless together, playing off each other well with Tiny as a good (albeit a little self-centered) central character.
The plot is complex, and the change in each Will may be gradual as each one sorts out their own myriad of problems and issues, but the journey is funny, rough, and best of all, smart (for example, Schrondinger's cat is used as an extended metaphor throughout much of the book).Read more ›
PROS: The concept is intriguing. I was hooked from reading the back cover. I worried that two authors collaborating in such a way (alternating chapters and essentially creating separate books that collide in the middle) was too ambitious, but they pulled it off. It really works. John Green's character Tiny is larger-than-life (literally and figuratively). His Will Grayson is my favorite, because he's a normal kid who struggles with normal issues. He has a love interest, and his feelings are so real; even when he's contradicting himself, you know exactly what he's going through. The ending was good, if a bit cheesy. (OK, so it's a lot cheesy, actually. It's the kind of ending you'd expect during a season finale of "Glee.") Still, it's enjoyable.
CONS: Levithan's WG character is depressing and whiny and just a.w.f.u.l. It's just tedious and repetitive, and it was just too easy to put the book down when I finished an odd chapter. I had to make myself read the first 4 even chapters, but then finally (near the middle), it got interesting. I can see a lot of other readers putting the book down and never reaching the best part, which incidentally happens during the last 4 chapters.
On a side note, I read this book for book club. We chose it based on the item description. We were not aware it was an LGBT title until we started reading it. I wish this was part of the item description. YA covers a wide area, and there are some parents who might not want their younger teens reading this. (The language was pretty intense.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book gives a genuine look into acceptance for others. It is enticing and wise. I found myself taking a lot of quotes from this book and relating them to my own life.Published 7 days ago by Marissa Dahl
Definitely not up his usually standards. Though the premise was good, the characters were not interesting. The OWG in the story was not likable. Read morePublished 9 days ago by LB
I haven't read the book because it's a birthday presents,but it's John green and all of his other books I've read are great. The book has a really nice cover.Published 12 days ago by Amazon Customer
Enjoyed this book a lot! I'm a fan of John Green and enjoyed this. My fave is Paper Towns, but this had all of the same great humor from inside the minds of high school boys, and... Read morePublished 13 days ago by Lauren A. Krebsbach
I was pretty confused for the first half of the book to be honest. But once I realized what was going on it was great! Haha.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
This has to be my new favorite book! I love it so very much it has a place of honor in my collection.Published 17 days ago by Amazon Customer
It was very high school. I had a hard time connecting with the characters.Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
If you love one of the authors previous works you will find the humor and love in this. I'm grateful to have purchased and read this book for myself and family.Published 19 days ago by Candice
“You like someone who can’t like you back because in a way that once-requited love cannot.”
This book wasn’t what I was expecting at all. Read more