So it's been a while since I blogged. A long while. Since my last blog post, a lot of things have made me angry and want to blog (like election coverage about personalities over policies). And a lot of thing have made me happy and want to blog (like a sublime eleventh doctor). And even more things have made me curious about myself and want to blog (about how all my clothes now seem to come from Uni-Qlo).
But I'm glad I waited. Because now I have something to blog about which does not make me want to rant or gush or ponder. I have something to blog about that makes me want to... well, blog. And it's a good thing - I'm trying to take a leaf out of my friend Alex's book and talk about things without so much... anger. So, a positive thing it is!
I just finished 'Will Grayson Will Grayson' (not sure if there's a comma there or not, assuming not), a novel co-written by John Green and David Levithan. And I have to put some of the things I thought down on paper. I want to clarify before we start: this is not a review! Because I loved it, I really did, but me telling you I loved it is not that interesting (although, arguably, neither is this). I'm not a reviewer. My review would be short, boring and spend most of it's time trying to summarise a plot which would be lost in summary.
Instead, this is just a list of stuff I wanted to say about it. No spoilers, I still have like eight people to lend this book to, and you don't have to have read it to understand. It basically just ramblings. I would apologise for the fact that probably none of this makes sense but I think that adds charm to my blogging.
1. As someone who goes out of her way to encounter gay characters in TV/film/literature/IRL/all and any medium I can say, with some knowledge of what it looks like done poorly, that all the gay characters is this book are well-drawn, funny and complete individuals who are neither defined by their sexuality or drained of it. I think what makes these characters so great is that they have not been written with any 'cause' in mind, something which so many gay characters do in all mediums, and are not making an effort to produce flawless individuals. They are creating characters who are real and truthful, something which in the grand scheme of things is more important. The absence of this cause (and therefore the reality and humanity of their characters) is, ironically, the reason why they are so good for the 'cause' (as it were) of fair representation in culture.
2. This, more than any other book I have read in a long time, has given me that feeling... the one that I would try to describe if someone hadn't already described much better than I ever could. I hate to be pretentious and quote (though I am sure Mr Drummond is somewhere very proud) but here I go. The quote, from The History Boys is:
'The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - that you'd thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you've never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.'
(Hearing this, incidentally, was one of those moments)
More than anything, this is a story about friendship, especially friendship when we're young. At a time when pretty soon we're all going to go our separate ways, this is particularly raw for me. I think this story accepts (something so many stories tend to ignore) that friendship is not a choice and, in other circumstances, you and your friends might never have been friends. You fall in with people; the good crowd or the bad crowd. That no matter how close you are with someone, how much you love them, no one is a perfect friend. That you hurt your friends and they hurt you: and the most important thing is that, in the end, when you've shared the most important six years of your life with someone you're going to love them regardless. Because while you might not share all the same interests, while you might all be a little self-centred like teenagers tend to be, while they might sometimes brush you off without realising, you have and do share things which are much more important. Friendship is built by a serious of shared experiences and understanding, something I've learnt by having some amazing experiences with my friends.
And that's why I cried in a library full of my friends reading 'Will Grayson Will Grayson': because it is all painfully, truthfully true.
3. This book has the balance between serious and comic just write. Every heartbreaking moment is genuinely heartbreaking and every funny moment makes you LITERALLY LOL (and I don't say that lightly). Too often books for teenagers fall into this trap of trying to be both but failing because really, the story is better at one or the other. The reason it works is because funny things and sad things run side by side. Like life, really. Things don't stop being funny because life is generally sad and things don't stop being sad because you find something funny. There are no separate 'funny' and 'sad' sections ; you're laughing with the tears still fresh on your face. And that, I think, is the sign of a really good novel.
4. This strikes me as the kind of book that would have a really awesome soundtrack. The story rises and falls like the best kind of mixed tape.
5. This book is very good at integrating technology, subtly, into the story. Not that I'm surprised because, as we all know, John Green is the king of YouTube but still... so rarely has the Internet slipped into a story so seamlessly. It also isn't used in a way which makes you think that it's the authors trying to be 'down with the kids'. It simply exists. Often it is a very important part of the story and the characters interactions and it fits together between them in a way very realistic to how it does in real life.
These are basically really random things I thought while reading and afterwards while it was still turning in my head. In fact, this book is so good I went back and read it again because I read most of it in school and somehow, when I read things in school it never feels like I read them because I am half reading, half in school, you know? (You probably don't because that makes no sense but... hey!)
I leave you with my last, glowing endorsement: half the chapters are written with no capital letters. You (may or may not) know I am a huge punctuation/grammar fan but by the end... didn't even notice. I'd go so far as to say... I liked it.
(If you're still wondering how many stars I would have given it had this been a review, then you're not reading it properly)