100-Character Breakdown: A fantastic break from the typical book. A hilarious and musical portrait of being young and gay.
Genre: Young adult, LGBTQ, musical
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers (March 2015)
This hilarious and musical portrait of being young and gay further explores the character Tiny Cooper, first seen in David Levithan and John Green’s novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The book explores Tiny’s youth, from his birth to his teenage years, as he learns more about who he is and searches for love. His story is told as an autobiographical musical. There is no music to go along with the lyrics, but there is rhythm in them nonetheless. They also lead the comedy behind the book, with songs like “OH! What a Big Gay Baby!” and “Parade of Ex-boyfriends.” But, since Tiny is writing this musical, there are hilarious bits in the stage direction as well. The stage directions reveal so much about Tiny’s character; they are the monologue we never actually hear. In the introduction, Tiny says, “Like myself, this musical is meant to be loud and spectacular, although there are some quiet moments.”
And there are plenty of quiet moments. This book at its heart is a “loud and spectacular” musical, but it is also an emotional depiction of Tiny Cooper. Levithan makes sure that comes out beautifully. There are subtle and not-so-subtle moments of emotional development in the music, dialogue, and stage direction. There is a seriousness to Tiny’s story, and, while it isn’t at the forefront, these undertones ensure that the characters and story are well fleshed out. The musical structure makes it a quick read, and Levithan’s writing makes it a very entertaining read too.