I successfully put off reading Will Grayson Will Grayson for several months. I found that I could put it down after picking it up, yet I wanted to read it. I wanted to read it because it sings loudly for a population in our schools that is all too often unrecognized. Many communities (mine included) would not hesitate to limit access and discussion of the subject matter, let alone the book. The reasons cited for exclusion are often without limit, but the most troublesome excuse rests in a denial of reality, or the fact that it is not “our” reality.
The beauty of Will Grayson Will Grayson extends far beyond the rough language and sexuality. The story addresses some basic issues of self-worth that are essential to one’s development as a human being: How does one love, or can/should one love another, even if they are the same sex. How does this love manifest itself outside of a sexual relationship? How do we acknowledge our own doubts, fears and feelings?
Much of the novel’s dialogue is hacked out in text messages and IM chat sessions that depict the urgency of the feedback that moves the characters through a whirlwind of doubt and varying emotional states. In a world that is based on a friend list, a lingering response introduces more than doubt. The short bursts of text help to propel the reader along at a pace that is in tune with the characters and the overall plot.
I was unsure that the development of a gay musical would lend anything credible to the story, but the final scene made the wait worthwhile and erased any doubts. Good art, in any form interacts with its audience, but great art (and literature) moves spontaneously into the area of active participation. Authors Green and Levithan orchestrated a noteworthy ending where multiple members of the audience rose to their feet and stated, “I am Will Grayson.”
Certainly there are others who will rise and identify with Will Grayson when they read the book. They may be our students, or even our sons and daughters. Others will stand, but not for the same reasons. They will stand in support of those who yearn to discover and measure their own worth in a world that denies or suppresses the Wills and Tinys in every way possible.
Libraries serving high school students should add Will Grayson Will Grayson to their shelves.
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Andrews High School
50 HS Drive
Andrews, NC 28901