Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

4.4 371
by John Green, David Levithan

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One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating

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One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, Will Grayson crosses paths with . . . Will Grayson. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, and culminating in epic turns-of-heart and the most fabulous musical ever to grace the high school stage. Told in alternating voices from two YA superstars, this collaborative novel features a double helping of the heart and humor that have won them both legions of fans.

Editorial Reviews

Regina Marler
…a complete romp…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…Will Grayson, Will Grayson is so funny, rude and original tha…even the musical-averse will cheer.
Publishers Weekly
In alternating chapters, the authors track two teens, both named Will Grayson, who accidentally meet halfway through the novel, perhaps changing the trajectory of both of their lives. One Will is vintage Green: a smart nerd whose rules to live by include “don't care too much,” with a scene-stealing sidekick—Tiny Cooper, a large, flamboyantly gay classmate intent on staging an autobiographical musical. The other will (lowercase throughout) is angry and depressed; the one bright spot in his existence is an online friendship with “Isaac.” When will agrees to meet Isaac one night in Chicago, readers know nothing good will happen—and they will be wrong. A well-orchestrated big reveal takes the story in a new direction, one that gives (lowercase) will greater dimension. The ending is laudable but highly implausible. The journey to it is full of comic bits, mostly provided by the irrepressible Tiny, who needs his own novel. Frank sexual language—a shot at a bar “tastes like Satan's fire cock”—pushes this one to high school, where its message of embracing love in all its forms ought to find a receptive audience. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)
VOYA - Jennifer Miskec
One Will Grayson wants nothing more than to shut up and not care; the other wants nothing more than to have someone to talk to and care about. But when Will Grayson meets Will Grayson, two worlds collide, and neither Will's world will ever be the same. Both Will Graysons' lives are changed because of Tiny Cooper, "the world's largest person who is also really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large," who is in the process of producing an over-the-top musical about his life, trust, and true love. While Will Grayson starts dating Jane and reconnects with Tiny, his longtime best friend, Tiny is able to give the other Will Grayson the love and support he needs to come out to his friends and family. And it is both Will Graysons who show Tiny that he is appreciated. Exactly what you would expect from Green and Levithan, this novel offers a full cast of flawed and fabulous characters. Chasing obscure bands amongst the cityscape (this time Chicago), oversized queens, and the highly integrated gay and hetero worlds are signature Levithan; the corrupting and confused Maura and Jane are as complicated as Green's Alaska and Margo. What results is a wonderfully campy, sweet, romantic gesture in the spectacular style that readers have come to expect from these two YA masters. Although not entirely unfamiliar—or precisely because of it—Will Grayson will find a fast and adoring audience. Reviewer: Jennifer Miskec
Kirkus Reviews
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-rock-loving 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)
Two superstar authors pair up and really deliver the goods, dishing up a terrific high-energy tale...threaded with generous measures of comedy and savvy counsel.
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
The adage "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is proven to be absolutely true when considering this dual-viewpoint novel co-authored by two extremely talented authors. Two decidedly dissimilar young men share the exact same name as well as many very human traits, experiences, and feelings. Green and Levithan have spoken through these very believable characters with grace and guile; the speech patterns ring true and they express themselves with realistic body language and gestures. In order to keep the voices of the two boys distinct, one Will is written in all lower case letters; the other in the standard font sizes and sentence structure, which may actually reflect the more traditional side of that Will. He refers to the "other Will Grayson" when pondering some of their shared experiences and while processing "life lessons" he has gleaned from both "the other" and their friend, Tiny. Addressing the subjects of loyalty, friendship, love, and homosexuality with great aplomb and straightforward prose (sometimes delivered through text messages and e-mails, but mainly as first person narrative), the authors have give readers insight into high school teens without didacticism. The interplay building to the scene where the two Wills cross paths is tense and well crafted—one can hardly read fast enough to discover how they will manage the encounter. The character Tiny Cooper influences both of the Wills; he manages to be "bigger than life" without becoming a comic figure. His size, strength, and skills guarantee a respected place on the football team and his sexual orientation is never in question—neither for himself nor in the sight of others. He is openly gay and has "relationship issues" just as do the other teens. As the two Wills learn from each other (and a nicely developed set of friends), Tiny's ambitions to write and perform in the biggest musical production the school has ever witnessed draws the storyline into a superb moment of absolute understanding that "love is tied to truth." Humor abounds ("Phil Wrayson—what are the odds?"), realistic relationships are given respect and depth, adults are plausible, and the writing is brilliant—need I stress more that this book is outstanding? Reviewer: Sheilah Egan
Brooke Heidecorn
In what seems like a page from a Broadway show, two boys named Will Grayson meet under bizarre circumstances. Will Grayson literally stands in the shadow of his humongous best friend, content with going through life unnoticed. Will Grayson is selfloathing and has problems coming to terms with his homosexuality. Though seemingly unalike, despite their name, the boys' lives overlap. Green and Levithan alternate chapters from the two differing perspectives to give the reader a complete picture of the Wills's influence on each other. Each Will challenges and invites love into their life with the help and inspiration of the other. And as they both struggle with standing up for what and who they believe in, they learn that their lives may not be so different after all. With humor and gravity, the authors weave a story that culminates in the most colorful high school musical of all time. Reviewer: Brooke Heidecorn

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.36(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.90(d)
930L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

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Table of Contents


Title Page

Copyright Page



chapter one

chapter two

chapter three

chapter four

chapter five

chapter six

chapter seven

chapter eight

chapter nine

chapter ten

chapter eleven

chapter twelve

chapter thirteen

chapter fourteen

chapter fifteen

chapter sixteen

chapter seventeen

chapter eighteen

chapter ninteen

chapter twenty




A member of Penguin Books (USA) Inc.


Published by the Penguin Group | Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. | Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) | Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England | Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) | Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) | Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India | Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) | Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa | Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England


This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2010 by John Green and David Levithan


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast.


The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


CIP Data is available.


Published in the United States by Dutton Books,

a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014





ISBN: 9781101222997

To David Leventhal
(for being so close)




To Tobias Huisman


chapter one




When I was little, my dad used to tell me, “Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper.

Tiny Cooper is not the world’s gayest person, and he is not the world’s largest person, but I believe he may be the world’s largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large. Tiny has been my best friend since fifth grade, except for all last semester, when he was busy discovering the sheer scope of his own gayness, and I was busy having an actual honest-to-God Group of Friends for the first time in my life, who ended up Never Talking to Me Again due to two slight transgressions:

1. After some school-board member got all upset about gays in the locker room, I defended Tiny Cooper’s right to be both gigantic (and, therefore, the best member of our shitty football team’s offensive line) and gay in a letter to the school newspaper that I, stupidly, signed.

2. This guy in the Group of Friends named Clint was talking about the letter at lunch, and in the process of talking about it, he called me a bitchsquealer, and I didn’t know what a bitchsquealer was, so I was like, “What do you mean?” And then he called me a bitchsquealer again, at which point I told Clint to fuck off and then took my tray and left.

Which I guess means that technically I left the Group of Friends, although it felt the other way around. Honestly, none of them ever seemed to like me, but they were around, which isn’t nothing. And now they aren’t around, leaving me utterly bereft of social peers.

Unless you count Tiny, that is. Which I suppose I must.


Andbutso a few weeks after we get back from Christmas break our junior year, I’m sitting in my Assigned Seat in precalc when Tiny waltzes in wearing his jersey tucked into his chinos, even though football season is long over. Every day, Tiny miraculously manages to wedge himself into the chair-desk beside mine in precalc, and every day, I am amazed he can do it.

So Tiny squeezes into his chair, I am duly amazed, and then he turns to me and he whispers really loudly because secretly he wants other people to hear, “I’m in love.” I roll my eyes, because he falls in love every hour on the hour with some poor new boy. They all look the same: skinny and sweaty and tan, the last an abomination, because all February tans in Chicago are fake, and boys who fake tan—I don’t care whether they’re gay—are ridiculous.

“You’re so cynical,” Tiny says, waving his hand at me.

“I’m not cynical, Tiny,” I answer. “I’m practical.”

“You’re a robot,” he says. Tiny thinks that I am incapable of what humans call emotion because I have not cried since my seventh birthday, when I saw the movie All Dogs Go to Heaven. I suppose I should have known from the title that it wouldn’t end merrily, but in my defense, I was seven. Anyway, I haven’t cried since then. I don’t really understand the point of crying. Also, I feel that crying is almost—like, aside from deaths of relatives or whatever—totally avoidable if you follow two very simple rules: 1. Don’t care too much. 2. Shut up. Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the rules.

“I know love is real because I feel it,” Tiny says.

Apparently, class has started without our knowing, because Mr. Applebaum, who is ostensibly teaching us precalculus but is mostly teaching me that pain and suffering must be endured stoically, says, “You feel what, Tiny?”

“Love!” says Tiny. “I feel love.” And everyone turns around and either laughs or groans at Tiny, and because I’m sitting next to him and he’s my best and only friend, they’re laughing and groaning at me, too, which is precisely why I would not choose Tiny Cooper as my friend. He draws too much attention. Also, he has a pathological inability to follow either of my two rules. And so he waltzes around, caring too much and ceaselessly talking, and then he’s baffled when the world craps on him. And, of course, due to sheer proximity, this means the world craps on me, too.

After class, I’m staring into my locker, wondering how I managed to leave The Scarlet Letter at home, when Tiny comes up with his Gay-Straight Alliance friends Gary (who is gay) and Jane (who may or may not be—I’ve never asked), and Tiny says to me, “Apparently, everyone thinks I professed my love for you in precalc. Me in love with Will Grayson. Isn’t that the silliest crap you ever heard?”

“Great,” I say.

“People are just such idiots,” Tiny says. “As if there’s something wrong with being in love.”

Gary groans then. If you could pick your friends, I’d consider Gary. Tiny got close with Gary and Jane and Gary’s boyfriend, Nick, when he joined the GSA during my tenure as a member of the Group of Friends. I barely know Gary, since I’ve only been hanging around Tiny again for about two weeks, but he seems like the normalest person Tiny has ever befriended.

“There’s a difference,” Gary points out, “between being in love and announcing it in precalc.” Tiny starts to talk and Gary cuts him off. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. You have every right to love Zach.”

“Billy,” says Tiny.

“Wait, what happened to Zach?” I ask, because I could have sworn Tiny was in love with a Zach during precalc. But forty-seven minutes have passed since his proclamation, so maybe he’s changed gears. Tiny has had about 3,900 boyfriends—half of them Internet-only.

Gary, who seems as flummoxed by the emergence of Billy as I am, leans against the lockers and bangs his head softly against the steel. “Tiny, you being a makeout whore is so not good for the cause.”

I look way up at Tiny and say, “Can we quell the rumors of our love? It hurts my chances with the ladies.”

“Calling them ‘the ladies’ doesn’t help either,” Jane tells me.

Tiny laughs. “But seriously,” I tell him, “I always catch shit about it.” Tiny looks at me seriously for once and nods a little.

“Although for the record,” Gary says, “you could do worse than Will Grayson.”

“And he has,” I note.

Tiny spins in a balletic pirouette out into the middle of the hallway and, laughing, shouts, “Dear World, I am not hot for Will Grayson. But world, there’s something else you should know about Will Grayson.” And then he begins to sing, a Broadway baritone as big as his waist, “I can’t live without him!”

People laugh and whoop and clap as Tiny continues the serenade while I walk off to English. It’s a long walk, and it only gets longer when someone stops you and asks how it feels to be sodomized by Tiny Cooper, and how you find Tiny Cooper’s “gay little pencil prick” behind his fat belly. I respond the way I always do: by looking down and walking straight and fast. I know they’re kidding. I know part of knowing someone is being mean to them or whatever. Tiny always has some brilliant thing to say back, like, “For someone who theoretically doesn’t want me, you sure spend a lot of time thinking and talking about my penis.” Maybe that works for Tiny, but it never works for me. Shutting up works. Following the rules works. So I shut up, and I don’t care, and I keep walking, and soon it’s over.

The last time I said anything of note was the time I wrote the fricking letter to the editor about fricking Tiny Cooper and his fricking right to be a fricking star on our horrible football team. I don’t regret writing the letter in the least, but I regret signing it. Signing it was a clear violation of the rule about shutting up, and look where it got me: alone on a Tuesday afternoon, staring at my black Chuck Taylors.


That night, not long after I order pizza for me and my parents, who are—as always—late at the hospital, Tiny Cooper calls me and, real quiet and fast, he blurts out, “Neutral Milk Hotel is supposedly playing a reunion show at the Hideout and it’s totally not advertised and no one even knows about it and holy shit, Grayson, holy shit!”

“Holy shit!” I shout. One thing you can say for Tiny: whenever something awesome happens, Tiny is always the first to hear.

Now, I am not generally given over to excitement, but Neutral Milk Hotel sort of changed my life. They released this absolutely fantastic album called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea in 1998 and haven’t been heard from since, purportedly because their lead singer lives in a cave in New Zealand. But anyway, he’s a genius. “When?”

“Dunno. I just heard. I’m gonna call Jane, too. She likes them almost as much as you do. Okay, so now. Now. Let’s go to the Hideout now.”

“I’m literally on my way,” I answer, opening the door to the garage.


I call my mom from the car. I tell her Neutral Milk Hotel is playing at the Hideout and she says, “Who? What? You’re hiding out?” And then I hum a few bars of one of their songs and Mom says, “Oh, I know that song. It’s on the mix you made me,” and I say, “Right,” and she says, “Well you have to be back by eleven,” and I say, “Mom this is a historical event. History doesn’t have a curfew,” and she says, “Back by eleven,” and I say, “Fine. Jesus,” and then she has to go cut cancer out of someone.

Tiny Cooper lives in a mansion with the world’s richest parents. I don’t think either of his parents have jobs, but they are so disgustingly rich that Tiny Cooper doesn’t even live in the mansion; he lives in the mansion’s coach house, all by himself. He has three bedrooms in that motherfucker and a fridge that always has beer in it and his parents never bother him, and so we can sit there all day and play video game football and drink Miller Lite, except in point of fact Tiny hates video games and I hate drinking beer, so mostly all we ever do is play darts (he has a dartboard) and listen to music and talk and study. I’ve just started to say the T in Tiny when he comes running out of his room, one black leather loafer on and the other in his hand, shouting, “Go, Grayson, go go.”

And everything goes perfectly on the way there. Traffic’s not too bad on Sheridan, and I’m cornering the car like it’s the Indy 500, and we’re listening to my favorite NMH song, “Holland, 1945,” and then onto Lake Shore Drive, the waves of Lake Michigan crashing against the boulders by the Drive, the windows cracked to get the car to defrost, the dirty, bracing, cold air rushing in, and I love the way Chicago smells—Chicago is brackish lake water and soot and sweat and grease and I love it, and I love this song, and Tiny’s saying I love this song, and he’s got the visor down so he can muss up his hair a little more expertly. That gets me to thinking that Neutral Milk Hotel is going to see me just as surely as I’m going to see them, so I give myself a once-over in the rearview. My face seems too square and my eyes too big, like I’m perpetually surprised, but there’s nothing wrong with me that I can fix.


The Hideout is a dive bar made of wooden planks that’s nestled between a factory and some Department of Transportation building. There’s nothing swank about it, but there’s a line out the door even though it’s only seven. So I huddle in line for a while with Tiny until Gary and Possibly Gay Jane show up.

Jane’s wearing a hand-scrawled Neutral Milk Hotel v-neck T-shirt under her open coat. Jane showed up in Tiny’s life around the time I dropped out of it, so we don’t really know each other. Still, I’d say she’s currently about my fourth-best friend, and apparently she has good taste in music.

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