Book Week: "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green and David Levithan

Already whipped through your summer reading materials? No worries. All week, Jackalope Ranch contributors will review candidates for your nightstand. Have a suggestion for us? Leave it in the comment section. Today: "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" by John Green and David Levithan.

Hooray for gay young adult fiction!

I'm a big believer in the idea that fiction, especially the kind aimed at teens, should reflect the diversity and complexity of real life. It's a better teacher, a better truth-teller and seriously, just more fun to read.

So when I heard that popular YA authors John Green and David Levithan had teamed up on a novel in which one of the two narrators (both named Will Grayson) is a thoroughly un-stereotypical gay teen, I immediately added it to my "to-read" list.You should, too.

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(Read six reasons why after the jump)

1. It's funny: From the adventure that results in one Will Grayson having to pick his best friend's nose, to the darkly clever threats the other Will Grayson makes internally toward his boring classmates, the comedy is clear through to the ending's fabulous student musical. I giggled enough to disturb the folks around me frequently.
2. It's current: For example, the characters don't just use the words instant messaging, Facebook and texting. They actually use those particular bits of technology in the way non-luddites do in real life.
3. It's sweet... The main characters are loyal friends, awkwardly romantic in "like" with each other and good to their parents -- in other words, they're not too "cool" to be real.
4. ... without being too sugary: Sex exists in this book. So do fake IDs, neon-colored shots, swear words and seedy porn shops.
5. It reminds us that there's more to gays... Okay yes, Tiny Cooper is big and fabulous and loves musical theater and moves through boyfriends daily, but he also plays football and his best friend is just a run-of-the-mill shy guy. And the gay Will Grayson worries that some things, like Madonna, are just "too gay."
6. ... and more to guys: Teen television and movies can make us think that all guys, especially teens, should only be interested in how to get laid. Thankfully, there's much more to life in "Will Grayson, Will Grayson," and in real life.


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