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Will Grayson, Will Grayson
Book
2009
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  New York Times Review

DANCE: 10. Looks: 3. What is adolescence but a long, grueling theatrical audition? The cruel spotlight and the snickering from the darkness might as well describe the morning walk to the locker through a gantlet of rich kids, bullies and fabulous, distant beauties. This is one reason the authors of two new gay-themed young adult books center their plots on the production of a high school musical. The other is that "gay" and "musical" tend to exert a worldbending magnetic force on each other. Cass Meyer, the heroine of Emily Horner's ambitious first novel, "A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend," is a short-haired, athletic, math-loving high school senior whose schoolmates long ago reached a consensus about her sexuality. Cass herself isn't so sure. She's never felt passionately attracted to either sex. When other girls fawn over their crushes, she just doesn't get it. But what about Julia, the sun around which she orbited from early childhood? "I had never let myself think about that too long, or too deeply," Cass observes. "Except that there was a time I wanted to hold her hand, and didn't, because I couldn't risk someone thinking it meant something. I couldn't risk that it might mean something." Julia had been her hero - laughing off or playing up to innuendos about her sexuality, always making time for Cass even after falling in love with Ollie, a theater geek. Suddenly, she's gone - killed in a one-car crash on a rainy night. Cass decides to help Ollie and their other friends memorialize her by staging Julia's "sekrit project," a gore-spattered musical called "Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad." The lead? Heather Galloway, Cass's middle school nemesis: the bully who started the gay rumors about Cass and made her life hell. "A Love Story" alternately pursues two narrative tracks - the present day, in which Cass negotiates her painful relationships with Ollie and Heather, and the recent past, in which she attempted a solo bicycle trip from Chicago to California with Julia's ashes, planning to scatter them in the ocean. Sometimes these two stories don't align, and breakthroughs in the past are followed by disorienting returns to the same issues in the present. A budding romance with Heather is not always convincing, either. But the strength of this promising novel is its emotional reach, from mourning through identity crisis through new love. Cass's grief colors everything, and the grief itself is tinged always with that question she never let herself ask: Was she in love with Julia? BY contrast, John Green and David Levithan's "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" is a complete romp. Written in alternating chapters (Green's are the odd-numbered ones), it builds toward the random meeting of two teenagers named Will Grayson. One is a gay misanthrope who thinks he's found his soul mate on the Internet, and the other is the nebbishy straight best friend of Tiny Cooper, a giant in every sense of the term: a 6-foot-6 football player, out and proud since the fifth grade, and the star of his own enormous life. This isn't your mother's gay Y.A. novel. Tiny Cooper feels not a moment of shame or alienation. When yet another boyfriend breaks up with him - by phone, by text, by Facebook status - he weeps publicly. He's writing a musical about his life called "Hold Me Closer," in which his best friend figures as "Phil Wrayson" and all 18 exboyfriends are depicted onstage. High school teasing bounces off Tiny like rays of soft, flattering sunlight, and he always has a clever comeback. "Maybe that works for Tiny," Will reflects, "but it never works for me. Shutting up works. Following the rules works." When classmates ask how it feels to have sex with Tiny Cooper, Will just shuts up and keeps walking. Once, he wrote a letter to the school newspaper in defense of Tiny's right to be both super-gay and on the football team. "I don't regret writing the letter in the least, but I regret signing it." Despite its structure, which shuttles between one Will and the other, the novel is so tightly woven that it begins to feel miraculous. Neither Will can hold a candle to Tiny Cooper - which, luckily, both of them realize near the end. They let themselves be lifted temporarily by this flaming Falstaff and then find a way to show Tiny he is appreciated. "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" is so funny, rude and original that by the time flowers hit the stage after "Hold Me Closer," even the musical-averse will cheer. Regina Marler is the editor of "Queer Beats: How the Beats Turned America On to Sex."

  Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Two superstar authors pair up and really deliver the goods, dishing up a terrific high-energy tale of teen love, lust, intrigue, anger, pain, and friendship threaded with generous measures of comedy and savvy counsel. Though the ensemble cast revolves around Tiny Cooper, the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large, the central characters are the two titular narrators, who share a name (but don't meet until partway through) and trade off alternate chapters. One Will has been Tiny's satellite for years but is starting to chafe at the role especially after Tiny forcibly sets him up with Jane, an infuriatingly perfect match. The other, whose clinical depression is brilliantly signaled by an all-lowercase narrative and so intensely conveyed that his early entries are hard to read, sees at least a glimmer of light fall on his self-image after a chance meeting with Tiny sparks a wild mutual infatuation. The performance of an autobiographical high-school musical that Tiny writes, directs, and stars in makes a rousing and suitably theatrical finale for a tale populated with young people engaged in figuring out what's important and shot through with strong feelings, smart-mouthed dialogue, and uncommon insight.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

Will Grayson loves indie rock, plays the eye-rolling angry stepchild to his extraordinarily giant, lovable, gay best friend Tiny Cooper and doesn't realize that he yearns for his other indie-rockloving friend Jane until it's too late. will grayson (he never uses uppercase) hates most everything except sharing an XXL coffee with his best friend Maura each morning and covertly conversing with his Internet boyfriend every night. Their two discrete worlds collide in a Chicago porn store after dual botched evenings out. Love, honesty, friendship and trust all ensue, culminating in the world's gayest and most fabulous musical ever. Green and Levithan craft an intellectually existential, electrically ebullient love story that brilliantly melds the ridiculous with the realistic. In alternating chapters from Will and will, each character comes lovingly to life, especially Tiny Cooper, whose linebacker-sized, heart-on-his-sleeve personality could win over the grouchiest of grouches (viz. will grayson). Their story, along with the rest of the cast's, will have readers simultaneously laughing, crying and singing at the top of their lungs. (Fiction. YA)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Two award-winning and New York Times- bestselling author join forces for a collaborative novel of awesome proportions.<br> <br> One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens--both named Will Grayson--are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most fabulous high school musical. <p>Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan's collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of faithful fans.<br> <br> A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice <br> An ALA Stonewall Honor Book <br> <br> " Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a complete romp. [It is] so funny, rude and original that by the time flowers hit the stage, even the musical-averse will cheer." -- The New York Times Book Review <br> <br> ★"Will have readers simultaneously laughing, crying and singing at the top of their lungs."-- Kirkus Reviews , starred review <br> <br> "It is such a good book. [Green and Levithan] are two of the best writers writing today." --NPR's The Roundtable <br> <br> </p>
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