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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Victoria Reviews: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I don't normally spend my time reading lifelike stories, so John Green books are something new to me. Most of the time, I prefer to read about magic and aliens rather than regular kids in high school, and I actively avoid novels that portray ordinary life. However, I've been hearing glowing recommendations for John Green for quite a while now, so when Michelle asked me to read one of his books, I quickly accepted. That night, I curled up with a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

I was a bit surprised by the book and the way it was written. The story follows the points of view of two different boys, both named Will Grayson, and the events that lead up to their meeting point as well as the repercussions that follow. Each chapter alternates between their narration. The first Will Grayson seems to be a decently normal, shy kid, and the oddest thing about him is his best friend. Will Grayson #1 is best friends with a flamboyantly homosexual boy named Tiny, ironically nicknamed for his very large size. Will Grayson #2 seems depressed and angry, and he's harboring a deep secret that he hasn't yet shared with the world. The writing of his point of view differs from Will Grayson #1 because it doesn't use any capital letters and often leaves out punctuation as well (something which annoyed the Grammarian in me at first but which was surprisingly easy to get used to).

The oddest thing about this book, to me, was that the main story wasn't even about either of the Will Graysons. The actual plot revolved around Will #1's best friend, Tiny Cooper. The Will Graysons were just the vehicles for Tiny's story to be told. They were almost minor characters, in their own way, and their own personal journeys only seemed important because of how they affected Tiny. It was an interesting way to read a story.

John Green and his contributor, David Levithan, did an excellent job on characterization. The characters are normal, flawed people just like anyone you'd meet on the street. They have doubts, fears, and awkward moments, and they make mistakes just like the rest of us. At the same time, their ordinariness does not make the story uninteresting. Contrariwise, the story is interesting in part because they are ordinary. The characters embody the traits of the kind of people that everyone knows. Everybody knows someone who is always at the center of attention. Everyone knows a shy kid. Everyone knows the guy who treats everyone else with contempt. We all have that friend who we love even though they frequently embarrass us in public. The story is an easy one to like because there's something for everyone to identify with. It's also a rather emotional read because the realness of the characters makes them easy to care about.

I think Will Grayson, Will Grayson was a good start for me on John Green. I'll definitely be picking up his other books in the near future. I recommend you do the same.

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