This is the Rainbow List of Must-Reads: Where I review a different one of my favourite books each week! Sixth on our list we have a purple book with a purple cover:
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
As I lifted ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ from the shelves of my local Waterstones, a strange sadness washed over me. Having just finished ‘An Abundance of Katherines’ (My favourite of his works) I had rushed to the shops to complete my Green collection – Now, I wished I had waited just a little bit longer. This was the last one of John Green’s books that I hadn’t read. This book would be the last time for a while that I would get the excited rush of reading something of his for the first time.
For those of you who don’t know, ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson ‘ is shared by two authors; with John Green writing the odd numbered chapters and David Levithan the even. It follows the story of two teenage boys; both named Will Grayson, living in different parts of Illinois. The issues that the two boys are faced with in their day-to-day lives cause their stories to intertwine one faithful night in Chicago outside a dirty looking sex shop.
I slipped into the story of ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ in the same way one would slip into a hot bath. I sighed with a mixture of bliss and relief as I sailed through the first chapter. I had gone to the bookshop in search of some sweet John Green familiarity and I was not disappointed.
Though in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ Green’s characters are somewhat different to what we have seen before (The book features the exuberant, extravagant and fantastically gay character of Tiny Cooper) the writing style is still easy, warm, satisfying and distinctly John Green. It was exactly what I came for, I was not disappointed. However, when I bought the book there was one rather large aspect of it that I had forgotten – co-writer, David Levithan.
After John Green’s smooth opening chapter, the switch in writers was a bit of a shock. Not only because Levithan has refused to any capital letters in his chapters whatsoever (something which took quite a bit of getting used to), but also because the two writer’s main characters have a strong and obvious contrast. While Green’s Will Grayson seems your typical awkward, ordinary teenage boy, hopelessly trying to fly under the radar of high school life, Levithan’s Will Grayson is an angry, angsty teenager with a severe case of depression, desperately clinging to his online relationship with another boy.
Levithan’s Will Grayson definitely wasn’t what I was expecting from a book with John Green’s name on it. But as I worked my way through the book I found myself savouring Levithan’s chapters a little more than Green’s. As much as I enjoyed Green’s Grayson’s side of the story, Levithan’s came as a refreshing change of pace, giving the book whole new dimensions.
The character development in ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ is simply beautiful. Though initially I found both Will Graysons annoying and horrifically self-involved, as the book progressed I began to understand them and relate to them in ways I don’t usually with other books.
One of the reasons ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ made such an impact on me was because the characters were imperfect - and that was okay. Often, teen fiction can undermine the emotions of young characters as instances of teenage angst rather than issues that should actually be recognised and dealt with. In ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ the problems of the two main characters were indulged by the writers in a most satisfying way. The reader is taught that the dilemmas you are faced with as a teenager are equally as important as the ones you will face in your adulthood and can in fact affect you for the rest of your life.
I loved ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’ because it is a book written by adults that finally manages to acknowledge that being a teenager is difficult, without seeming condescending in any way. And that it why I believe it deserves the purple spot on this list.
You can find out more about John Green here!
You can find out more about David Levithan here!
You can read the other reviews in the Rainbow List of Must-Reads here: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue