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    Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2010: What's in a name? A
    pretty fantastic book idea, for starters. At heart, Will Grayson,
    Will Grayson is about a couple of kids figuring out how to be
    themselves. Two of those kids happen to have the same name, and
    not much in common outside of that, but their serendipitous
    friendship sets the stage for a much larger, braver, and more
    candid story than the simplicity of the plot might suggest. The
    relevance for teens here is clear--high school is the only time
    in your life when you have the undivided opportunity to obsess
    over your every move, sentence, and outfit change--but the part
    about understanding who you are doesn't stop when you graduate.
    That's what makes Will Grayson, Will Grayson as interesting a
    pick for adults as it is for teens: the questions don't get
    simpler, but looking at them through the eyes of a 16-year-old
    brings a welcome sense of honesty and humor to this thing called
    life. No one's ever too old to enjoy that. --Anne Bartholomew

    Amazon Exclusive: David Levithan and John Green Talk About
    Names

    Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about two teenage boys with the
    same name, whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. The book
    originated with the thought of giving two different boys the
    same name, and to give that name some meaning. It also comes from
    David's own experience. So to give you an inside peek at the
    making of the book, we figured it would be fun to give you
    insight into our own names, as well as Will Grayson’s.

    David Levithan David Levithan

    To my knowledge, there are only two other David Levithans in the
    world – my dad’s cousin, and a lawyer in South Africa who, as far
    as we can tell, isn’t family. The last name Levithan is actually
    the invention of an immigration official – when my
    great-grandfather came to America from Russia, it should have
    translated to Levitan. But somehow the h got in there. Now,
    whenever I meet another Levithan (which is rare), odds are good
    that he or she is related to me.

    That said, the story of Will Grayson, Will Grayson came from
    someone whose name is close to mine, but not identical. David
    Leventhal went to Brown at the same time I did, and people would
    confuse us often.

    This ended up being something of a joke, because David was an
    extraordinary dancer, while I was…not an extraordinary dancer. So
    people would exclaim, “We had no idea someone as clumsy as you
    could be so graceful on stage!” and I’d have to say, “Well, un,
    that wasn’t me.” Finally, right before graduation, I contacted
    David and we met up. We became instant friends, and when we both
    moved to New York after college, we were always in each other’s
    company. The similarity of our names often threw people for a
    loop… and I thought, well, that might make an interesting story.

    Amusingly, David Leventhal’s college roommate’s name was . . .
    Jon Green.
    John Green
    John Green

    I was named after my great-grandfather, John Michael Crosby, an
    itinerant minor-league baseball manager and occasional catcher. I
    like my name, but being a John Green can certainly be
    inconvenient, because there are a lot of us. Among many others,
    there is John Green the realtor in Mississippi (who owns
    johngreen.com, much to my chagrin), John Green the Australian
    botanist, and of course John Green the world-renowned Bigfoot
    scholar. This last John Green, who is so revered in the field of
    Bigfoot research that he is often called “one of the four
    horseman of Sasquatchery,” is kind of my mortal enemy. I once
    wrote a magazine article in which I passingly noted that Bigfoot
    is, you know, fictional, and John Green replied with a letter
    arguing that my anti-Bigfoot stance was besmirching the good name
    of John Greens everywhere.

    Such is the curse of being a John Green. Or a Will Grayson, for
    that matter.

    Will

    We decided that I (David) would choose our character’s first
    name, and John would choose his last name. I liked the name Will
    because of its different, sometimes contradictory, meanings. As a
    noun, it can be so strong – where there’s a will, there’s a way,
    and whatnot. But as a verb, it’s split. Sometimes it’s just as
    definite (It will be done!), but that definiteness is underscored
    by an uncertainty – you say it will be done, but it hadn’t been
    done yet, has it? And put it at the start of a question (“Will
    you still love me tomorrow?”) and it becomes the entrance for all
    kinds of vulnerability. That seemed right for the characters.

    Grayson

    I liked Grayson because whenever I would hear that name, it
    always sounded to me like “grace in,” which always struck me as a
    richly ambiguous phrase – is “grace in” the beginning of a clause
    or the end of it? Are we being asked to find grace in something,
    or to let grace in? Those questions seemed like interesting ones
    for the guy I wanted to write about.

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