"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Monday, May 11, 2015

Review #21: Will Grayson, will grayson, by John Green & David Levithan

Will Grayson, will grayson is a Cannonball favorite, so I'm going to skip the summary and dive right in, because I have lots and lots of thoughts about this book. It's the kind of story that when I was done with it, I needed to call up someone and talk about it right away, but felt like maybe I was overreacting just a smidge, because after all, it's impossible to fall in love with Tiny Cooper, because he isn't real. And that, my friends, is a great, great tragedy.

Because Tiny Cooper might just be the best thing ever. (And did you know he's got his own book now? Hold me closer, indeed.) He's big, black, and gay. And in your face. And a little bit self-involved. And exhausting to be around. And definitely has some delusions of grandeur. But you know what else Tiny is? An amazing friend. Sometimes I wanted to shake Will and scream at him that he would never find a friend as loyal and true as Tiny. Tiny, who wears his heart on his sleeve, who falls in and out of love with the flip of a switch, who is, yes, a little bit self-absorbed, but who loves Will with a fierceness and protectiveness that we all crave in a best friend.

I've read John Green (Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns) before. He's a Cannonball darling, and he's a hoot on Facebook. He'd be a blast to hang out and have a beer with and I love his unabashed excitement over seeing his stories come to life. But this was my first exposure to David Levithan, and he blew me away. His treatment of will grayson was spot on. The very matter-of-fact way that he dealt with will's depression and mental health, the running commentary in will's head, his shock at Maura's betrayal...it all felt so natural. His disbelief and anxiety - that anxious hope that someone could like him for him, really like him - was extraordinarily on point. Levithan tackles depression and anxiety, sexual identity, and personal identity, as well as the usual teen angst, in a way that I've rarely seen on the written page. If I want to have a beer with Green, I want to lay on Levithan's couch and explore the inner workings of his mind.

I loved Will Grayson, will grayson the way eighteen year old me loved My So-Called Life. The characters could have easily been a Very Special Episode of Blossom or Glee-ified, but they rang so incredibly true - like Angela and Rayanne and Ricky and Brian and Jordan Catalano did to me twenty years ago (sweet baby Jesus we're old) - that I was sad to close the cover and say goodbye to them.

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