Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an amazing book. Simply amazing. But the sad thing is, I was actually a bit reticent to pick it up because the summaries of the book I’ve read sounded..well..kind of boring and a little vague. “It’s about being a teenager in high school” (aren’t they all?), “It’s got heart” (eye-roll), “it’s about friendship” (gag). And most of all the descriptions about it being about a musical really turned me away because, well, I really don’t like musicals. And high school musicals? Hmm….
But in the end (or rather from the very beginning) I was completely blown away by this book–by its authenticity, by its courage, and yes, by its heart. The characters felt like real teenagers and the characters were all meaty and interesting. I should summarize a little bit–basically the book is about a straight boy named Will Grayson who has a gay best friend (a huge guy named Tiny–and yes, hilarity ensues) who happens to meet another boy named Will Grayson, a depressed teenager who is struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. At first Tiny seems like a comic relief for the book, Will Grayson’s Big Gay Al of a best friend, but over time he grows into one of the most important characters of the book (in yes, what is a little bit of an over-the-top cheesy ending).
The true genius lies in the way the authors show kids just plain being mean to each other and themselves (intentionally and unintentionally) and doing it in a way that makes us want to keep reading. As a writer struggling to give some of my YA characters authenticity, I couldn’t help but be in awe of this book.