About two years ago I read the young adult novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson. I read this book because two of my favorite novelists collaborated, John Green and David Levithan. As expected, this book was excellent. So, how could I not pick up Hold Me Closer-The Tiny Cooper Story?
Well, I couldn’t. That’s how.
There is nothing Tiny about Tiny Cooper. From his personality to his size to how gay he is, he is large in every aspect. He constantly refers to glitter, to grand dance numbers, to falling in love all the way, getting your heart broken and picking up the pieces to make art. Tiny is also a football player and a good son with a religious, football loving, supportive family. And I have to say, Tiny may be one of my favorite characters Levithan has written. I love Will Grayson, ex-boyfriend #18, because they are so perfectly imperfect together. They meet at a time in life when each one needs the other for different reasons, and though it is not thoroughly gone into, it is portrayed well through the little pieces of information Tiny throws in that are not part of the production. Which leads me to my favorite aspect of Levithan’s writing.
David Levithan has this way of making non-traditional formatting into something so beautiful, so easy to relate to, it blows me away. The way he wrote this play in Tiny’s voice, the fact that a play has a ‘voice’ at all, telling a story within a story in the stage directions, it was awesome. I could hear the songs set to music as I read the words, see the over the top kids on stage as they danced around covered in sparkly outfits. I could picture this being done outside the story but within Tiny’s life, see the Will Graysons and their reactions as they sat in the audience. Levithan just has this way of making you feel. He makes falling in love something amazing, heartbreak and all.
Another very important part of this play is the way Levithan portrays Tiny’s surroundings: he is accepted and loved. He is supported and defended. The people around him are okay with him being gay as much as they are with him playing football. The bullying is touched upon briefly, but I think it’s awesome it wasn’t the main plot-line. It gives me a sense of hope that the world is becoming a more accepting place. We can see it with marriage equality, but there are still so many scary judgmental people out there that seem to want an excuse to be assholes. And, in my humble opinion, high school is one of the worst places for being judged on the stupidest bullshit. David Levithan writes characters I would have been friends with in high school, people who, as they grow I would be friends with now. (If I had the expertise at friend making in my thirties). He writes a world I want to be part of.
Hold Me Closer-The Tiny Cooper Story is definitely worth a read for those who love young adult fiction. And it took me all of an hour or so to finish. Go. Get a copy. Read. Feel young again.