How many times have you texted the message ‘LOL’ or ‘ROFLMAO’ when you are doing neither one? In fact, when was the last time you really laughed out loud—uncontrollably, in bursts—so that the people around you looked to see what in the world you were doing?
While I was reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson in various waiting rooms over the past few weeks, this happened to me more times than I could count. I loved/enjoyed this edgy book for mature teen readers.
Though there are two characters named Will Grayson (who meet coincidentally), the glue that holds together all the lives of the important people in the book is Tiny Cooper, “not the world’s gayest person and . . . not the world’s largest person, but . . . the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” Tiny is on the football team (offensive lineman), but he’s also a creative playwright who is working to stage his own drama at school—or make that his own life’s drama as the story is about him.
The first Will Grayson has been best friends with Tiny since they were in fifth grade. He likes to keep a bit of distance between himself and others and avoids getting hurt. He follows whatever path life leads him in, doing what his parents plan for him without giving it any thought. Yet Tiny, who falls in and out of love on a near daily basis, sets Will up with a girl who is perfect for him—much to the consternation and confusion of Will. Jane helps Will with some important insights.
The second Will Grayson is deeply—clinically—depressed. He is gay, but is not OK with it. He hasn’t come out to anyone and chats online with another boy who is mutually infatuated with him although the two have never met. Will 2’s father left his mother and seeing the result of her messy, lonely life, he finds her pathetic rather than an object of pity or sympathy. His language is foul and all the type in the book that indicts his voice is lower case, showing how truly desperate he is, even though he is taking anti-depressants to stabilize his mood. (“god bless the mood equalizers. and all moods shall be created equal. i am the f—civil rights movement of moods.”) His only friend, Maura, lives in her own dark world, writing depressing poetry.
When Will 2 experiences one of the most stunning betrayals a person could imagine, he is thrown into the lives of Will 1 and Tiny. Along with the wonderful, honest and sensitive Jane, they are a great cast of characters. And of course, they are all cast in the high school musical that is Tiny’s life, all seen through Tiny’s lens.
So even though this group goes through hell, as Winston Churchill advises people to do, they keep going to get to the other side, figuring out who they are and why they matter. Honestly, I think you’ll love this book (unless discussions of sexuality and profanity offend you). And if you want to read more by the same author (John Green), Mrs. Dietzman at Chaffey High very highly recommends Looking for Alaska—it’s available both at Chaffey and Colony Highs.