Last Friday I went to the most amazing book signing at the most amazing bookstore. Over 300 people crammed into the Indy Reads Books (okay, we had to take turns in order to keep the fire marshal happy) to hear and meet the amazing John Green. We had lots of time to explore the bookstore since our numbers to have books signed were in the 300’s. It was time well spent as we browsed books and celebrated with other nerdfighters. I even succeeded in turning my daughter into a John Green fan, and she is now devouring every book of his she can get her hands on. I was worried for a while that we might miss our chance since the signing went over the publicized time, but John Green kept on signing and was funny and gracious to all of us. I even have a picture to prove it! I know there is hope for the future when that many people of all ages get this excited about books and authors!
I picked up two of Green’s books I hadn’t read yet. The first one I read was Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Dutton 2010) that Green cowrote with David Levithan. It blew me away. I did find the alternating points of view (told by two different Will Graysons) jarring at first, but once I turned the last page, I wanted to burst into song. If you’ve read it, too, you know exactly what I mean. Even though Green and Levithan deal with some hard stuff between the covers, I was affirmed and uplifted at the end. Here are just some of the things I loved about this book.
- At its heart, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a story about friendship and the courage it takes to be honest in relationships. It doesn’t matter whether the friendship is platonic or romantic, gay or straight, friends can make the world bearable if you are brave enough to open up and let them in. Both Will Graysons must make that choice in a variety of relationships. Will they be honest or remain in hiding?
- The first Will Grayson lives by two rules: 1) Don’t care too much, and 2) Shut up. He breaks both rules when he writes and signs a letter in support of his best friend Tiny Cooper, who is an openly gay player on the football team. In fact, hanging around the larger-than-life Tiny threatens those rules on an almost daily basis, as does his growing relationship with the delightfully intriguing Jane.
- The other Will Grayson is trapped behind the wall of his depression. His best relationship is with someone he has never met in real life–Isaac, who always knows just what to say (or rather, IM). He decidedly does NOT want to talk about any of this with the morose and nosy Maura. Circumstances force him out of his shell until he must face the truth about himself.
- A chance encounter in the most unlikely of stores in Chicago (where neither Will Grayson really wants to be) brings the two Wills together. Once their paths collide, their lives continue to bump together as they both orbit around Tiny Cooper.
- I love Tiny Cooper. He is larger-than-life both literally and figuratively. He lives life with abandon and exuberance. He falls in and out of love on a daily basis. He’s even writing a musical based on his life and is determined to bring it to life on the high school stage. If he succeeds, he will go down in history. Tiny, know that I appreciate you.
- This book made me laugh–not a polite little giggle, either, but laughs that snorted out my nose. It would not be wise to read this while eating or drinking, or you might learn (as did the first Will Grayson) that the saying, “you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose” just isn’t always true.
- What is it with Schrodinger’s cat? This is the second book this summer (the first was Libba Bray’s Going Bovine) that weaved this physicist’s thought experiment into the story. Is the universe trying to tell me something? Maybe I should pay attention.
Just like a good musical (Glee, anyone?), Will Grayson, Will Grayson will inspire you to live larger and better–or at the very least start finding the sound track for your life.