Book: Hold Me Closer

"Hold Me Closer"

Watch out, ex-boyfriends, and get out of the way, homophobic coaches. Tiny Cooper has something to say–and he’s going to say it in a song.

Filled with honestly, humor, and ‘big, lively, belty’ musical numbers, Hold Me Closer is the no-holds-barred (and many-bars-held) entirety of the beloved musical first introduced in Will Grayson, Will Grayson, the award-winning bestseller by John Green and David Levithan.

Tiny Cooper is finally taking center stage…and the world will never be the same again.

What in the world did I just put down?

Hold Me Closer: the Tiny Cooper Story spins off from one of the few John Green novels I could stand: Will Grayson, Will Grayson–and I credit David Levithan for this. So when I found out that Levithan was releasing a book based on the most entertaining character off the Will Grayson book, I thought it would be a fun read. I wish I could say I was right.

I wasn’t wrong, let’s be clear. Hold Me Closer is not in any way a bad book. It is entertaining. But it’s definitely not the book I was expecting from David Levithan. Then again, I wasn’t expecting Every You, Every Me either–so it’s not like this was unprecedented. But unlike Every You, Every Me, I can’t fathom why Levithan would write this book. It’s not experimental. It’s not ground-breaking.

Hold Me Closer brings nothing new to the table, and I feel like I wasted the five hours I spent reading it.

The book isn’t actually a book in the most traditional sense. It is a book–for a musical Tiny Cooper wrote in the Will Grayson, Will Grayson book. But it’s not a new story. Its Tiny Cooper’s life told with songs. And we’ve already had a glimpse of Tiny Cooper’s life in the aforementioned book. The worst part is how this book ends before the source book does. So there really is nothing new in Hold Me Closer.

I guess that’s the risk of doing something like this: publishing a plot device, and pushing it to stand on its own. You have to rely on readers’ nostalgia and good will. But you know what else you can do? Give something new. In the source book, we only get glimpses of Hold Me Closer. So it shouldn’t have been hard to do. But the spin-off didn’t spin. It just took parts of the source book we already know and put it to song. And dialogue. And stage direction.

Hold Me Closer is entertaining. I’ll still give it that. But at the end of the day, for a book to be good, there has to be substance. Which I didn’t see or feel while reading this book. I guess I’ll just have to be grateful that the book wasn’t longer.

Of course, other people will have other opinions about the book too. Let’s check some of them out in the following links:
Caught Read H&nded
The Young Folks

Book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

"Will Grayson, Will Grayson"

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high school stage.

I have to say, out of all the John Green novels I’ve read–this one is the best. Maybe it’s because he wrote it with someone else. But I think–I hope–he does take something from this exercise. I haven’t read his latest book yet, so I wouldn’t know. But Will Grayson, Will Grayson takes off so much from other Green novels because the author is forced to include three new characters that aren’t part of his hit formula.

In Will Grayson, Will Grayson, we get two characters with the same name but are from the different sides of the personality spectrum. The funny thing is, the two are essentially the same–except, they dealt with their fears and insecurities differently. One unconsciously became a shadow of a much bigger personality, while the other rejected all offers of connection.

David Leviathan’s Will Grayson is the latter. And he’s the more interesting character, in my opinion, because he’s filled with so much self-hatred that it pours of him–and it affects his relationship with everyone. And he tries so hard not to care, but he can’t help but do. Especially when it comes to his mother. Whereas John Green’s Will Grayson is of the stereotype the author has created for all his heroes. A little quirky, unpopular, friends with someone big (this time, literally and figuratively), and hopelessly in love with a girl too cool for him. Forced to face each other, the two Will Graysons bring out something different.

And that’s when the book became interesting.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, unlike other John Green novels isn’t just about coming of age. While it is that, it focuses more on the importance of connection. How other people affect us, and how we (in turn) affect them.

What I like about it the most is it’s a young adult novel that doesn’t celebrate standing out. Because, really, not everyone can stand out. What makes any one of us special, if all of us are special? This book talks about how, no matter how different you might be, you have someone you’re the same with. Whether by interest, by love, by family–or, by name. And yet, at the same time, the things that make us common are the things that make us who we are. It’s the things that shape who we become.

And in the era of the me generation, a story about people who help someone else stand out, is the one that stands out the most.

From the books I’ve read this year, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is a clear front runner for being a favorite.

But what do other people think?
A Little Shelf of Heaven
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
YouTube: Book Review