Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hold me closer, Tiny Cooper

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2009)

Meet Will Grayson. To get through high school, he tries to abide by two rules: 1. Don’t care too much, and 2. Shut up. He’s convinced that everything bad that’s ever happened to him has been the result of not following these rules. Though Will tries to keep a low profile, his efforts are undermined daily by his proiximity to his best friend, Tiny Cooper. Tiny is the size of a refrigerator, flamboyantly gay, and writing an autobiographical musical entitled Tiny Dancer.

Meet Will Grayson. He is angry, disappointed, and very private. The person he hangs out with the most is Maura, a similarly gloomy and cynical girl who seems to think of herself as Will’s girlfriend. But every day Will looks forward to the one bright spot in his life: chatting online with Isaac, the only person Will feels truly comfortable with. Although their relationship is purely virtual, Will is madly in love.

One night, through a series of rather unfortunate events, the two Will Graysons meet face to face and the result is the most important musical of our time. Well, a lot of stuff happens in between but I don’t want to ruin the story by telling you too much about it.

I really liked spending time with both Wills, Tiny, Jane, and even Maura. I was envious of their high school experience, where it’s ok to be different, and the school supports you putting on an elaborate musical you wrote yourself, and you have a fake ID to get into cool clubs to see crappy bands. Even if some people tease you for being who you are, you still have your few close friends and your favorite music. It’s a little like Glee.

Despite the title, the real star of the book is Tiny Cooper. He makes most of what happens in the story happen, brings people together, provides comic relief, supplies ample drama, and teaches everyone about love. It’s really quite a ride.

Both authors did a great job of differentiating their characters while maintaining the flow of the story. Chapters alternated between each of the title characters, one Will Grayson per author, with chapters focusing on the second Will Grayson written all in lower case. What could have been a very confusing book was handled quite deftly. I haven’t written anything else by either author, but after this awesome collaboration, I definitely will!

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