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.” 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.