Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Common Sense Media says

Edgy, clever gay-themed tale about teens with same name.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The fact that this book was so popular will certainly give readers something to think and talk about. Parents can also use this book to open up conversations about online friends and dating. See our discussion guide below for more specific conversation ideas on both of these topics.

Positive messages

Readers will find positive messages about the importance of friendship and accepting yourself.



Positive role models

Many wonderful characters, including some very supportive, nurturing parents. Readers may also appreciate that Tiny, while overweight, is still shown pursuing a love life. One Will Grayson suffers from depression and is on medication for it, a depiction that's handled compassionately but isn't used as an excuse for his behavior. On the other hand, the main teenage girls are somewhat mean and egocentric, and they don't compare well to the guys. 

Not applicable

One of the book's protagonists has an online romance with another teen boy; many references to masturbating and sex, and a humorous scene in an adult video store. Some fantasized IM sex; but in "real life," the characters never progress further than kissing.


Pretty much all of them: "s--t," "motherf----r," "bitchsquealer," "goddamn," "tw-t," "p---y," "c--k," "c--ksucker," "f--k," "s--tbag," "piss," "balls," "bastard," "dumbass," "asshole," "hell," "c--t," and more.


References to drinking Red Bull and Miller Lite.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Will and Tiny drink beer at Tiny's house; they drink shots at a club they get into with fake ID; a few additional references to drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is the first gay-themed YA novel to wind up on The New York Times best-seller list. It features a gay-friendly school and town and gay characters, including a very out-and-proud character nicknamed Tiny Cooper. Tiny breaks stereotypes by being both overweight and capable of having a love life. Another character, one of the Wills, is taking medication for his depression, a depiction that's handled compassionately. Parental relationships are idealized but heartwarming. While nothing more than kissing happens physically, there's lots of graphic sexual language, and one scene is set in a porn store. The book includes other strong language as well, which might make this book a better fit for older teens.   


Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON has a fun premise: Two narrators, each named WIll Grayson, tell their stories in alternating chapters. Will Grayson No. 1 is a straight, moody teen who's best friends with a large -- and larger than life -- out-and-proud teen named Tiny Cooper. Will Grayson No. 2 is an even moodier, lonely gay teen who first crosses paths with Will No. 1 in a porn store. From there, both Wills orbit around Planet Tiny. Meanwhile, heartbroken Tiny uses his pain to write, direct, and star in a fabulous high school musical titled Tiny Dancer, which wows everyone. But he's not the only one who makes a successful journey: Both Wills also find themselves, with a whole lot of help from their friends.

Is it any good?


This book offers lots of humor, lots of music, and fantastic over-the-top moments that we all can only wish would happen in real life. Some of the story is related in IMs and texts, which adds realism and energy. This is the first gay-themed book to wind up on The New York Times children's best seller list, and it's easy to see why.

Readers will certainly get caught up in the book's fun premise -- and even find themselves moved by this clever collaboration about coming-of-age in a gay-friendly big city. Tiny Cooper is a great character; his heart of gold -- and his amazing performance -- are truly unforgettable. Plus, who doesn't love a happy ending? Even if it's not exactly believable...

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book's portrayals of gay characters. How do character depictions like those in Will Grayson, Will Grayson impact teen readers -- both gay and straight?

  • What do you think is the significance of the fact that this was the first gay-themed YA novel to wind up on The New York Times best-seller list?

  • The second Will is misled by his online love interest. He was convinced it was for real. How can you make sure someone you meet online is who you think they are?

Book details

Authors:David Levithan, John Green
Genre:Coming of Age
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Children's Books
Publication date:April 6, 2010
Number of pages:304
Publisher's recommended age(s):14 - 17

This review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byFreet December 21, 2010

Excellent choice

Yet another excellent story by the superb author, John Green. This was the first one I read by this author and, while this isn't my favorite by him, (thought the ending wrapped up a little too neatly too fast) it was still a quite excellent read. I love this guy.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byhungryparent November 30, 2010


Its a little disturbing
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educator Written byRobinSo February 5, 2011

Know your audience librarians

I listened to the audio and found it confusing at times. It wasn't always clear who was talking. I believe the premise is great for conversations in a book club setting and for reading on one's own. Much seemed like typical teen trials and tribulations. There words that I really didn't want to hear in an audio, but in print I would have jumped over them.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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