Great Books Coming in 2010: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON

When I attended NCTE last month, I came home with a pile of advance reader copies of 2010 novels. (So many, in fact, that at one point, the bag in which I was carrying them exploded in a rather spectacular fashion, strewing ARCs in about a ten foot radius around the conference center floor, but that is a whole ‘nother story.)

Anyway, because I understand how important these early copies are to authors and publishers and because I know they cost a lot to produce, I only take them with a promise to myself to share recommendations wherever I can. So this will be the first in a long-ish series of bookish thoughts from NCTE. All are from review copies supplied by publishers unless otherwise noted.

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON is a collaboration between YA legends John Green and David Levithan, which is probably enough information to make you want to read it. But if not…also know that it is an amazing book.

A few things occurred to me after I’d read just the first couple chapters.

1. There are lots of YA books that are great to share with my 7th grade middle school students. This is not one of them. It’s really a book for high school and up.

2. This is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Laugh-out-loud, snorting-milk funny. And smart.

3. Personally, I wish this book could be required reading for anyone who still believes that it is somehow okay not to give gay people the same rights as straight people. It’s a book that fosters understanding and empathy as well as anything I’ve ever read.

What else is WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON? It’s about two guys named Will Grayson who meet serendipitously. It’s written in both their voices (John Green writes the Will Grayson who writes with both upper and lower case letters, I confirmed when I asked about it via Twitter)

It’s a book about friendship and looking for love, about finding it and losing it, about dusting yourself off and trying again. It’s about skipping in the parking lot and singing — loudly — no matter who’s listening or what they say.

There’s a Broadway-esque musical within the novel that pretty much captures the whole spirit of the thing. You know those great Broadway shows, where the ending is so feel-good and cheesy but at the same time, so amazing and perfect that it couldn’t have ended any other way? And then when it’s over you just want to stand up and hug the stranger next to you and rush out and change the world? It’s like that.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful book. (Coming from Dutton in April 2010).