AudioBook: Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan
Brilliance Audio, April 6th, 2010
Reader’s Annotation: When everything seems negative, remind yourself that at least you don’t have a friend writing musicals about you, wearing wrinkled clothes and confronting all your exes at the same time! Will Grayson cannot say this.
Genre: GLBTQ Fiction – Gender Identity/Issues
Plot Summary: There are two teenage guys named Will Grayson living within a short distance of each other. They don’t even know the other one exists, but their lives collide in a bizarre way that might change everything they have ever known. This book takes us on this journey as two Wills, one who is gay and one who is painfully stubbornly closeted gay, try to find their place in the world with their identity intact. At the center of the story is the dramatic/tragic/over the top character called Tiny Cooper. He epitomizes openness and personal pride. He ties the two Will Graysons together – as friend and boyfriend. When he begins to write a deeply personal musical, both Will Graysons learn something about themselves and what it means to be who they are, with no apologies.
Critical Evaluation: This book has the unique approach of alternating between narrators (both of the Will Graysons) as they tell their intersecting stories. In the audiobook, the narrators switch out accordingly. The value of friendship is sharply highlighted, and challenged in this wonderful book. This book on the outside discusses gay issues, but it shows us the depth of the humanity of these characters, with their sexuality only being one facet of very complex personalities. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was full of angsty melodrama and sarcastic ennui, but I felt like the characters went through a lot in the book and that their internal struggles were starting to finally be understood and worked out. Laugh out loud funny audio performance.
About the authors: John Green is the author of a number of award winning YA books, including Looking for Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. From his website: “He was 2006 recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award, a 2009 Edgar Award winner, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Green grew up in Orlando, Florida before attending Indian Springs School and then Kenyon College.”
David Levithan is a renowned author of other notable books such as Boy Meets Boy and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. The author sums up his life well on his website: “I find it downright baffling to write about myself, which is why I’m considering it somewhat cruel and usual to have to write this brief bio and to update it now and then. The factual approach (born ’72, Brown ’94, first book ’03) seems a bit dry, while the emotional landscape (happy childhood, happy adolescence – give or take a few poems – and happy adulthood so far) sounds horribly well-adjusted.”
Curriculum Ties: Sociology – Equal rights/gay rights/discrimination
Booktalking Ideas: Talk about the relationship between Tiny and his long-time friend Will Grayson. How does their friendship transcend their sexuality?
Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12 (BookList)
Challenge Issues: This book depicts gay characters. Often, that is enough for the book to be challenged. It is an award winner: Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production Honor (2011), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2010), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), RT Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Novel (2010), YALSA Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (2011). Be prepared to show book focused on value of friendship, be familiar with content. (Source for awards: Goodreads.com). Access ALA guidelines for assistance: http://bit.ly/Jcphm.
Why I chose this book: I wanted to include this book because it is truly a great read. The issues of young gay people are more thoroughly experienced in this book than in any other book I have read. This is a great choice for a more diverse teen reading collection.
Something extra: You will laugh out loud, a lot, if you listen to this audio book.
TAGS: Realistic Fiction, Gay Characters, Humor, Sarcasm/Wit, Coming-of-Age, Ennui, GLBTQ Fiction