Literary Criticism and Significance
Will Grayson, Will Grayson was released to critical and commercial success and was listed as a best-selling young adult novel by The New York Times. Both John Green and David Levithan have expressed surprise at the outright success of the novel, though given the success each has experienced in his respective career, the enthusiastic response is certainly understandable. Critics often praise the readability of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and many commentators have discussed the willingness with which a novel that openly discusses homosexuality has been received. Writing for the Christian Science Monitor, Marjorie Kehe reports:
Gay characters are not always the center of the works in which they appear.... It is also becoming more common to find romance, fantasy, and paranormal books that include characters who just happened to be gay.
Many commentators have, therefore, expressed surprise that Will Grayson, Will Grayson, a novel whose primary characters discuss or explore homosexuality, has not produced greater public furor or calls for the book to be banned from school libraries. However, in an interview with the Sunday Morning Herald, Levithan explains:
Ten years ago it would have been really obvious and commented upon, and I’m sure, protested.... Now young adult fiction with gay characters is so accepted and such a part of our lives and literature that nobody batted an eyelash.
The novel’s mainstream reception has earned it a place in public libraries and on best-seller lists.
The discussion of homosexuality has also earned Will Grayson, Will Grayson critical plaudits. Writing for the Australian, Nigel Krauth suggests that
adults supply little mentoring and few positive signs for those making the terrible crossing from teenage to adulthood. Honesty fails everyone. Highest on the avoided topics list is homosexuality.
However, this focus on subject matter does not fully explain the success of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, nor does it give authors John Green and David Levithan the credit that they deserve. The novel is effective for its use of humor, its complex characterization, and the sophistication with which it approaches adolescent relationships.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson represents the style and themes of both authors, including Levithan’s discussion of what it is like to explore homosexuality as a teenager and Green’s often humorous depiction of adolescence. Perhaps this should not come as a surprise because Green and Levithan wrote the first half of Will Grayson, Will Grayson without consulting each other. Green wrote the story of Will Grayson in Chicago and Levithan wrote the story of Will Grayson in Naperville. When they started writing, John Green had not yet made his name as a young adult novelist. However, in the following years, he won the Michael L. Printz Award for his debut novel, Looking for Alaska. Levithan has had a great deal of success as an author, and one of his most successful novels is Boy Meets Boy, which won the Lambda Literary Award. Will Grayson, Will Grayson combines the strengths of both authors.