“It’s hard to believe in coincidence, but it’s even harder to believe in anything else.”
― John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
“I think the idea of a ‘mental health day’ is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it’s like to have bad mental health. the idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying ‘i don’t want to deal with things today’ and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.
― David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson
- Release Date: April 6th 2010
- Pages: 304
- Genre: Realistic Fiction
- Publisher: Dutton’s Children (Penguin)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson is probably David Levithan’s most well-known co-authorship and served as my introduction to David Levithan 2 years ago. I’d liked John Green’s vlogbrothers channel and decided to start reading his books. I got what I expected from Green’s writing, but Levithan’s just blew me away. It reminded me of how unique and diverse the voices in YA writing can be. For Days of David Levithan, I did a re-read of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but decided to switch it up with the audiobook
Will Grayson,Will Grayson is told in the alternating perspective of two 16-year-olds named WillGrayson,each leading separate lives unknown to each other. Until faith and a little bit of bad luck has them cross paths. From that moment the story unravels as each Will Grayson is forced to examine everything they thought they knew about love, relationships and coincidence.
Green’s Will lives by two strict rules to avoid unfortunate things from happening; 1. Don’t care too much and 2.Shut Up. The only problem is his “very large”, “very gay” and serial dater best friend, Tiny Cooper, who has a “pathological inability” to follow any of these rules. Levithan’s Will Grayson is still in the closet, apathetic, and living with depression. His only close relationship is with his long-distance boyfriend, Issac and his school friend Maura, a girl he says is “the kind of friend i enjoy swapping doomsday scenarios with…. not, however, someone who makes me want to prevent doomsday from happening”
Levithan uses an interesting narrative technique for his Will, he writes all of his sections in lowercase letters and IMs. In an interview in the back of the book, Levithan explains that he does this because his Will Grayson sees himself as a lowercase person and is more comfortable communicating in this way. While it is jarring at first, the format made it easier to keep up with the shift in narration. But format aside, Levithan’s writing in this novel is some of my favorite. Will’s narration felt so genuine and had a stream of consciousnesses feel. I rarely laugh at books, but his Will’s hyperbolic and strange sense of humor actually made me laugh out loud.
I was a little weary of going into the audiobook because this book has a lot of moving parts, but MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl did an amazing job. MacLeod Andrews probably had the biggest challenge. As the narrator of Levithan’s Will because so much of his perspective is monologues and rants with no adverbs. Andrews really had to add in his own inflections to the words. He also had to narrate a lot of IM sessions, which has it’s own challenges. At one point, he made a kind of choked, shocked sound to something during an IM session and it turned out that is the audiobook’s interpretation of !!!! and ????
But, the audiobook works in one very interesting way. A big part of the plot involves Green’s Will’s best friend putting on a musical about his life. So, during the musical numbers and song sections, Nick Podehl actually sings the song lyrics, which brought them to life more for me than when I was reading them.
What I really like about this book is the way it explores male characters in YA. Often, YA fiction showcases male characters as flawless, impenetrable brooding heroes, but this book creates a more varied male experience; they are allowed to be self-conscious and emotional. It explores the depth and importance of male friendships and I think is what sticks with a lot of readers. The only issue I really have with this book is that one or two of the jokes were toeing the line of offensiveness.
Whether you want to get into John Green or David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an excellent book to start with. It has some amazingly complex characters, a healthy dose of humor centering around a great set up.
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.