The internet has long dispelled the illusion that our names are unique. A quick Google search will likely yield at least one other person who shares your exact name, spelling and all. Entirely less likely however, would be to run into your doppelganger in a porn shop in downtown Chicago, setting the two of you off on a series of adventures together that puts both of your lives on a new and improved course. In Will Grayson, Will Grayson a book co-authored by John Green and David Leviathan, this is precisely what befalls the two principal characters, after whom the book is titled.
Will Grayson manages to keep his teen aged life in balance by following two simple rules: 1. Don’t care too much, and 2. Shut up. His aloof attitude keeps his emotions fairly in check but his love interest at bay. Jane, a girl on the straight side of his high school’s Gay-Straight alliance, has a kilowatt smile but somehow still isn’t Will’s type. Tiny, his best friend, is also his polar opposite. Tiny is hardwired to fall in love, despite repeated heartbreaks and is at work on an autobiographical musical-to-end-all-musicals, “Tiny Dancer”. Whereas Tiny is all bleeding heart and self-expression, Will is pure wallflower self-consciousness. Try as Will might to remain unnoticed, Tiny’s antics pull him into the spotlight again and again.
His counterpart, will grayson, writes (and seems to live) in the lower case. Depressed and suicidal, will has his homosexuality under wraps. He keeps his mother and his only friend, Maura, at an arm’s distance. Only to Isaac, his chat room crush, does he reveal his sexuality and clues to his inner life. So, when Isaac asks to meet will in the flesh, life starts to look up. That is, until will arrives at their rendezvous address to find a porn shop and no Isaac. The other Will Grayson, whose fake ID has failed to usher him into the Maybe Dead Cats concert across the street, trolls the aisles instead. In the midst of the two boys’ mind-blowing shared identity discovery, Maura calls to confess to will that Isaac was only her twisted online creation.
Enter devastation. Enter Tiny.
Tiny’s nearly impenetrable positivity works its magic on each Will Grayson in turn. Tiny offers support and a spark to will. While Tiny gives will his first kiss from a real live boy, the other Will tells Jane the truth about his feelings for her. What follows are the highs and lows of relationships new and old. will isn’t sure he can handle all of the love Tiny exudes. And Tiny’s honesty with Will about his hang-ups introduces growing pains to a long time friendship. But the show must go on, and Tiny continues feverishly preparing for an on-stage debut that ends win an ovation like no other. Meanwhile, each Will Grayson manages to beak through new boundaries of vulnerability and self-acceptance.
Yaroos! gives Will Grayson, Will Grayson 4.5 stars. It is nearly pitch-perfect, and Tiny, who steals the show , may be the best co-written character of all YA time. Here and there are minor lulls in the action, which keep this from ranking as a 5 star book, but readers may not notice, as they laugh, and maybe even cry at this heart-warming read.