“When you wake up in the morning you swing your legs out of bed and you put your feet on the ground and you stand up. You don’t scoot to the edge of the bed and look down to make sure the floor is there. The floor is always there. Until it’s not.” – John Green
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is a stand-alone novel written from the perspective of two different teenage boys with the same name, who happen to coincidentally find each other on a mutually lonely night in Chicago. Every odd chapter is narrated by John Green’s character while the even ones are taken by David Levithan’s.
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON primarily explores human relationships as the two Wills and their respective friends struggle to make sense of life and love in high school in the build up to the biggest, gayest school musical of the century.
The plot is very simple and somewhat predictable at times, but it is the way that everything is executed which truly gives the novel life. The characters are the real driving force behind the entire premise and, in my opinion, a strong cast overrides a complex plot every time. The pace is perfect and the chapter systems works to build mini cliffhangers for each Will so I was always left wanting more.
Green’s style, as always, is emotional and philosophical yet somehow feels right in the mouth of his teenage lead, a somewhat awkward 16 year old who is often outshone (and embarrassed) by his tall, fat, gay, lifelong best friend – the ironically named Tiny.
Green’s Will feels more mature and constant compared to Levithan’s, however he still has a lot of room to grow as he takes on the mammoth task of learning how to handle Tiny after 16 years of standing in his enormous shadow, alongside falling in love for the first time. He is sharp, funny and geeky – a classic Green protagonist who feels familiar enough to be instantly likeable but still new enough to make for an interesting read.
Levithan’s Will drew out a range of emotions from me; he is both hilarious and horribly depressed. Levithan’s honest depiction of a teenager dealing with depression was powerful, especially when showing the effect on friends, family and partners. What I found most refreshing, compared to some other depressed characters in literature, is that Will is still a whole person, fully rounded and capable of other emotions other than sadness. He is funny, he is kind, he is mean; he is human.
I found Levithan’s Will in all his ways to be a highlight of the book, he is such a different character compared to the types I usually encounter that I couldn’t help but love him.
There is no other word for this novel than heartwarming. A departure from Green’s usual heartbreakers, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is completely uplifting and hilarious. The way it discuss love (both gay and straight), depression and friendship is completely honest, upfront and true to how real life feels as you stumble your way through high school.