Written by: John Green and David Levithan
Published: April 6, 2010 by Dutton (Penguin Group)
(Amazon / Goodreads / Audible)
Synopsis: Will Grayson meets Will Grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their world will collide and lives intertwine.
It's not that far from Evanston to Naperville, but Chicago suburbanites Will Grayson and Will Grayson might as well live on different planets. When fate delivers them both to the same surprising crossroads, the Will Graysons find their lives overlapping and hurtling in new and unexpected directions. With a push from friends new and old - including the massive, and massively fabulous, Tiny Cooper, offensive lineman and musical theater auteur extraordinaire - Will and Will begin building toward respective romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history's most awesome high school musical.
There are some books that just make you smile like an idiot while you read them, this is one of those books. Everything about the writing and the audio for this book just made me so happy. It was the perfect summer read with quirky characters, tons of humor, and character development that left me smiling when I finished.
I could say that I picked this up because I was looking for an audiobook to listen to on a long drive over the holiday weekend and I wanted a fun contemporary but that would only be half true. I picked this book up because it is narrated by two of my favorite narrators. And boy did they do a fantastic job here. Both MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl are brilliant at telling stories in a fun but serious way. Whether it is fantasy, science fiction, or contemporary they can develop a world and interesting characters in such a fantastic way. There is so much emotion in their voices and that was so perfect for this book.
And they are perfect for this book because when it comes right down to it, this is a story full of emotion. But what I liked is that it doesn't beat you over the head with it. It walks that fine line between serious and humorous. At times it makes you laugh, then it makes you think, then it makes you feel sad (though admittedly not really all that sad). I love when contemporary reads are able to do that seamlessly and this definitely did. It had a pretty satisfying ending but along the way there are a few bumps.
It's tough to say if this is a coming of age story, a romance, both, or neither. Sure, there were romantic elements for both Wills but that really wasn't the focus which, I gotta say, I liked. It also had a really great story about friendship and acceptance but that may was kind of secondary too. The heart of this story is really about both finding out who you are and realizing those who love you will love you as you are. Both Will Graysons don't have an easy time figuring that out throughout the book which adds to a surprising amount of conflict both internally and externally. But the interesting thing is that they don't really go through a big change. By the end of the book their main development mostly is just being okay with who they are and their lot in life.
But that's what I liked about both main characters is that they did have good development throughout the book despite this not feeling like a cliche coming of age stories. Both of they're lives aren't easy but they are figuring them out. They weren't easy to like at times and are far from perfect. One Will Grayson, the MacLeod Andrews one, is incredibly surly. There are of course reasons for his hard exterior but at times he definitely comes off kind of mean and off-putting, but I think it worked. The other Will Grayson, the Nick Podehl one, is pretentious, at times self-centered, and often indecisive in the worst possible way. He doesn't know what he wants but what he really wants, I think, is to not have to decide. Throughout the book both characters soften a lot and start figuring out what they want and going for it. I liked their development despite it not being a typical coming of age story.
But we have to talk about the secondary characters. The one that ties them together and arguably the best secondary character is Tiny Cooper. The very out best friend of one will and love interest of the other. I loved Tiny for being 100% himself even when it's hard. Plus more than one of the funniest moments in the book came courtesy of Tiny. Then there is Jane who was not involved very much but was pretty likeable. Plus their parents who were all involved and engaged in a realistic way (a surprisingly refreshing thing for YA). In general I thought the characterization here was really good and two amazing narrators brought the characters alive.
On the whole this was a really good contemporary read and a fantastic audiobook. It walked the line between serious and funny with quirky characters who had good development throughout the book.
I give Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan 9 out of 10 stars