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Will Grayson, Will Grayson Paperback – April 5, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 770 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010: What's in a name? A pretty fantastic book idea, for starters. At heart, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about a couple of kids figuring out how to be themselves. Two of those kids happen to have the same name, and not much in common outside of that, but their serendipitous friendship sets the stage for a much larger, braver, and more candid story than the simplicity of the plot might suggest. The relevance for teens here is clear--high school is the only time in your life when you have the undivided opportunity to obsess over your every move, sentence, and outfit change--but the part about understanding who you are doesn't stop when you graduate. That's what makes Will Grayson, Will Grayson as interesting a pick for adults as it is for teens: the questions don't get simpler, but looking at them through the eyes of a 16-year-old brings a welcome sense of honesty and humor to this thing called life. No one's ever too old to enjoy that. --Anne Bartholomew

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.

David Levithan David Levithan

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.
John Green
John 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.

Will

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.

Grayson

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up—Will Grayson's best friend since fifth grade, nicknamed Tiny Cooper, is bigger than life in terms of his physical stature and his personality—the "world's largest person who is really, really gay." Tiny, while seeking the boy of his dreams, has been through the trauma of myriad short-lived romantic relationships and Will has supported him each time his heart is broken. Now, Tiny decides it's Will's turn. At first, Will resents Tiny's matchmaking efforts, but then an amazing coincidence that stems from it brings a new person into their lives. It's another teen named Will Grayson, who is sad and depressed, and captures Tiny's heart. While these and other relationships are connecting, intersecting, and eventually changing, Tiny writes and produces an autobiographical high school musical extravaganza that is really about life. On the night it premiers, everything comes full circle and further validates the presence of the Will Graysons. 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. Told in alternating chapters from each Will Grayson's point of view (one in lower case, effectively individualizing identities), complete with honest language, interesting characters, and a heartfelt, gritty edge, this quirky yet down-to-earth collaboration by two master YA storytellers will keep readers turning pages.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142418471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142418475
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (770 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been waiting for this book to come out since it was announced. Some background on my reading history: I love all of John Green's books and I love what I've read of David Levithan. So, naturally, I had high hopes for this awesome collision of genius.

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.
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Format: Paperback
My 15-year old son and I both enjoyed this double threaded teen self-realization story. The contrivance of two different Will Graysons is a mere decorative topping to two stories of teenage boys coming to terms with themselves, while both rotating around an outsized (personally and physically) friend named Tiny. One Will battles depression and comes to terms with his sexuality, the other Will his timidity and fear of feeling. Their alternating narration and narrative styles keep the story fresh, if not surprising, and their humor allows rich development of some serious themes. The book lost steam towards the end---the climax is not very climactic---but was intelligent and entertaining throughout. Both Tiny and one of the Wills are gay, and their sexuality is certainly very prominent in the book. And, while by no means does it make their life easy, I was struck by the ease with which the theme fit into the rest of the story. This is not the way such a story would have been told twenty years ago, or even ten, and, when I was a teenager 30+ years ago, I doubt it would have even been published. Very, very cool to see it now as just an important, integrated theme in the book. That was the highlight that will stay with me.
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Format: Hardcover
Will Grayson has been Tiny Cooper's best friend since elementary school. Tiny is, according to Will, "the world's largest person who is really, really gay" and constantly falling in and out of love--and dragging Will with him everywhere. When his latest attempt to hook Will up with a girl fails, Will meets Will Grayson, another teen who is depressed and discouraged. Both Wills make an effort not to feel too much in life, but are changed after meeting, and continue to change as Tiny puts on his extravagant and fabulous autobiographical musical, "Tiny Dancer", culminating in an unforgettable and powerful night.

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).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a charming, witty story, but I was a little disappointed after falling in love with all of John Green's other novels. The structure of the books is really well thought out, Green and Levithan alternate writing chapters, each being the voice of a different Will Grayson. One of the Will Graysons never uses capital letters in his writing, making it easy to determine which Will's voice you're reading.

Tiny Cooper's play, which is a major part of the story, was a bit cheesy to me. I love theater and musicals of all types, but I felt like the idea of Tiny's play was a little forced. It seemed more like the authors were trying to get a theme across rather than letting the plot guide them.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book and am still a huge fan of John Green and David Levithan.
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