|Author||John Green and David Levithan|
|Cover artist||Rodrigo Corral|
|Genre||Young adult problem novel|
|Publisher||the Penguin Group|
|April 6, 2010|
|Media type||Print (hardback, paperback)|
|LC Class||PZ7.G8233 Wil 2010|
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a novel by John Green and David Levithan, published in April 2010 by Dutton Juvenile. The book's narrative is divided evenly between two boys named Will Grayson, with Green having written all of the chapters for one and Levithan having written the chapters for the other, presented in an alternating chapter fashion. One boy is referred to with a capitalized letter at the start of his name, while the other is referred to in all lower case letters. The novel debuted on The New York Times children's best-seller list after its release and remained there for three weeks. It was the first LGBT-themed young adult novel to make it to that list.
In designing the plot for the book, the two authors decided to split it evenly in half. John Green wrote all the odd-numbered chapters (capitalized Will Grayson) while David Levithan wrote all the even-numbered chapters (lower case will grayson). This also held true for the main characters' names, with Levithan choosing the given name and Green the surname. The only plot they decided on together was the fact that the two characters would meet at some point in the novel and that their meeting would have a tremendous effect on their lives. After this decision, they separately wrote the first chapter for their half and then shared them with each other. After sharing, they then "knew immediately it was going to work", as stated by Levithan.
The story is told from two different perspectives, through both Will Grayson 1 and Will Grayson 2. When reading the odd-numbered chapters, the reader sees high school through the eyes of a heterosexual teenager, Will Grayson 1, who mostly believes in shutting up. When reading the even-numbered chapters, the reader sees high school through the eyes of a depressed gay teenager, Will Grayson 2. Though there are two separate characters speaking, the story remains the same from start to finish. As the story progresses, the perspectives do, however, blend together into one clear and cohesive storyline, rather than two separate plot lines, within the same high school story, told by two different characters.
At the beginning of the story, it is clear to distinguish between two completely different voices between the chapters; the reader is able to decipher when Will Grayson 1 is taking center stage when he talks about the girl that he's been crushing on, Jane Turner. Will Grayson 1's chapters are told with proper punctuation and capitalization, whereas Will Grayson 2's chapters are filled with more vulgarity, though Will Grayson 1 is just as vulgar and crude as Will Grayson 2 is. Will Grayson 2's chapters are filled with little character scripts of both casual and digital conversations that he has with his mom, his friend Maura (who is also attracted to him both platonically and romantically), and his crush, at the beginning of the story, Isaac, who goes by the alias of boundbydad via instant messaging.
As the story progresses, the stories of Will Grayson 1 and Will Grayson 2 become entangled, carrying strong themes of young love, teen angst and rebellion, and self-discovery throughout the book until the ending scene.
With the story's strongest focus being the musical about Tiny Cooper, Tiny Dancer, the chapters that are enumerated for Will Grayson 2 all follow a written dialogue that echoes that of a script, with character names preceding a colon before their dialogue is written in the text. The conversations before Will Grayson 2 meets Will Grayson 1 echo that of a chatroom instant message, with usernames and special nicknames for the characters preceding each of the conversation pieces. The text is written this way to help the reading audience relate to the happenings of the story better, by familiarizing the way that each chunk of dialogue is received.
The novel follows two boys who both have the name Will Grayson. The first Will, whose POV always has correct capitalization, is described as trying to live his life without being noticed. This is complicated by the fact that his best friend, Tiny Cooper, described as "the world's largest person who is really, really gay" and "the world's gayest person who is really, really large", is not the type to go around unnoticed. Tiny is also throughout the novel trying to create an autobiographical musical, which further draws attention to himself and everyone around him.
The other Will Grayson, whose POV never has capitalization, goes through his life without anything good to hold on to besides an online relationship with someone who goes by the name Isaac. Intent on meeting up with Isaac, Will Grayson sets up an encounter one night in Chicago but eventually finds out that Isaac was invented by a girl named Maura (who is also his peer in his daily school life). What ensues brings both characters together and changes both of their lives forever in ways they could never have guessed or imagined.
Friendship plays an interesting role in each of the characters' own personal story. For the majority of his story, Will Grayson 1 and Tiny Cooper have a scattered friendship, with visible cracks from the mistakes that Will has made in his past. As for Will Grayson 2 and Maura, their friendship reflects more of a touch-and-go relationship, picking up and leaving off whenever Will decides to consider Maura as his friend. With the blossoming relationship between Jane and Will Grayson 1, soon Will and Tiny begin to drift apart. The role of friendship creates a series of changes, breaks, differences, and conflict throughout each of the protagonists' stories.
Music is referenced to throughout the story with Neutral Milk Hotel, a band that brings together all of the main characters in the book and becomes entangled in each of their stories. While the music groups, both real and fictional, do not become characters themselves in the story, the music that they create becomes relevant to each of their personalities. While both obscure Jane and nonchalant Will Grayson 1 both share a common interest with the alternative band Neutral Milk Hotel, Tiny Cooper, the fabulously flamboyant character of the story, fancies big, bold Broadway-showtunes and music that becomes main-streamed as iconic pop culture.