Will Grayson, Will Grayson (and Tiny’s Chicken Parmesan)

will grayson meets will grayson. One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers are about to cross paths. From that moment on, their worlds will collide and lives intertwine.

-Back Cover

One of the most important ideas that I learned in teacher school is that every single teenager is “at risk.”  Sure, some teens are at more risk than others, but, overall, teens go through a time that I have named the “Self-destructive hormonal tornado” phase.

For some, this phase does not last very long.  They are inherently confident and self-aware.  Others are not so lucky.  Questions like, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and “Who are you taking to prom?” lead to code red lockdowns.

Only once you leave your little microcosym and look out at the world can you begin to see that your problems are not so bad.  Try comparing some of your high school issues with other world issues.

You don’t have the latest fashion v.  Sex trafficking

Crush rejects you v. Bombs destroying your village

Ahhh the beauty of perspective.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, co-written by John Green and David Levithan, delves into this teen angst and shows us two “versions” of Will Grayson.  One version is a straight, middle-class kid trying to coast through life.  The other is a terrified introvert who suddenly realizes that he is gay.  Told in alternating chapters, it is up to the reader to distinguish between these two characters.

Are the two versions of Will Grayson the result of a schitzopherenic episode in an attempt to balance his two personalities?  Are there actually two Will Graysons?  Only time, and the reading of this book, will tell all.

This is a book that has content which is at times difficult to read, yet it is worthwhile for teens (and adults trying to understand teens).  It shows teens that they are certainly not alone when it comes to identity confusion, and even offers up some helpful (but not preachy) solutions to some of the code red level problems.

With that said, it is definitely not my favorite YA book.  That would most likely be this or this.  While I could identify with what the characters were going through, I really did. not. like. any. of. the. characters.  Chances are, I would not be friends with them because they remind me of people who annoy the heck out of me.  Perhaps I don’t have a lot of patience for this since my job description should include listening to teenagers whine, but I got really sick of the amount of moping done in this book.

No, I’m not saying it is easy to be a teenager.  I do think that some tough love does wonders.  Will Grayson(s), stop the whining and do something productive with your time!  Ahhhh!

Tiny’s Chicken Parmesan

Will Grayson’s mother makes a special dinner when he introduces her to his boyfriend, an absolutely giant fellow named (ironically) Tiny.  She is aware that he is a big eater, so she makes the quintissential dish for big eatin’ and elegance- chicken parm.  Tiny LOVES it and his enjoyment of it made me crave some myself. 

There are many ways to make chicken parmesan and I certainly can’t claim that this is the “authentic” or “best” way, but this is the way that I enjoy it the most.  It isn’t health food, but it doesn’t clog your arteries or make your stomach hurt with an insane amount of cheese. 

An additional perk for the busy cook, I make this in less than 30 minutes from start to finish.  Take that Rachel Ray!

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut in half so that you have two thin, and flat pieces of chicken, 4 pieces total
  • 3/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (I like Panko crumbs)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Enough oil to fill a pan 1/2 inch (if you are pan frying the chicken)
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • pinch of salt

Procedure:

  • If you are going to bake the chicken breasts, preheat the oven to 450 F.
  • Get out 3 bowls.  In the first, put the flour.  In the second, beat the eggs together with the milk.  In the third, put the bread crumbs and cheese.
  • Set these bowls up as an assembly line, with an empty plate at the other end. Dip the piece of chicken in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumb/cheese mixture.  Shake off the excess and settle it on the plate.
  • Repeat this for all pieces of chicken
  • Once you have completed this, get all of the assembly line materials out of the way, preferably in the sink or dishwasher.
  • If baking, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, lay the chicken out flat and cook for 20 minutes, turning once.
  • If frying, heat the oil in the pan until it sizzles when you drip water into it.  Place the chicken in there and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Then flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes.   Once done, take the chicken out of the pan and place it on a paper-lined plate to drain any residual oil.  If you cook the chicken in hot enough oil, the end result will not be oily.
  • Meanwhile, dice up the tomato.  I don’t like the skin of a tomato so I skin it first and then chop it up.
  • When everything is ready, top your chicken with the tomato and serve with a yummy side dish (like the roasted asparagus seen here).
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