David Levithan brings a 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson' character to life via a musical novel

Any 'Will Grayson, Will Grayson' reader will remember the character Tiny Johnson. Levithan has penned a musical-as-novel centering on Tiny's life that comes complete with stage directions.

'Hold Me Closer' is by David Levithan.

A young adult novel with a familiar character but an unusual format is getting rave reviews.

Readers of the John Green and David Levithan novel “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” will doubtless remember the character Tiny Johnson, Will’s gay football player best friend who loves musicals. Earlier this month, Levithan published a novel titled “Hold Me Closer” that focuses on Tiny but is written as if it were a stage show. 

(Parents thinking of picking up “Hold” for their teenager should be aware that the novel has mature content.)

Barnes & Noble wrote that the book is “worth multiple curtain calls,” while Shelf Awareness children’s editor Jennifer M. Brown called the book “fabulous…. numbers [are] brilliant…. funny … and heart-wrenching.” 

Meanwhile, both Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal gave the book starred reviews. “Replete with laugh-out-loud one-liners … this edgy, au courant novel tackles a potentially difficult subject head-on, while giving sound, if liberal, counsel on sexual issues for gays and straights alike,” Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan of Providence’s LaSalle Academy wrote for SLJ. “Its solid story line and realistic, ‘colorful’ dialogue will appeal to high school readers. A welcome addition to progressive library collections, this unapologetic gem will encourage teens' discussion of a sensitive topic and potentially broaden their understanding of the meaning of "tolerance."

Meanwhile, Kirkus Reviews wrote of the book, “There are multiple moments in the spotlight, including solos and addresses to the audience, where Tiny will have readers falling out of their chairs laughing…. It's outrageous and hilarious.” 

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