Week 12, Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

Week 12, Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan

Levithan, D. (2015). Hold me closer: The Tiny Cooper story. New York, NY: Penguin Group.


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Laughing at the comedy that is Tiny Cooper!

This book is the story that many already know and love of Will Grayson, Will Grayson also by David Levithan but this time, there’s a twist. This version is told through the eyes of Tiny Cooper. This is the story of his life, but it is not just an ordinary story. No, it is a musical. This novel in musical form introduces the star, Tiny Cooper, and his big, beautiful, gay life as a big, beautiful, extravagant show. It is hilarious for the reader to follow along as we experience life’s ups and downs from Tiny’s perspective with musical numbers included, some real and some exaggerated.


Keywords: lighthearted; musical; gay and proud; extravagant; 18 boyfriends

What I Think:

I absolutely LOVED this book. The past few weeks I’ve been reading heavier books so it was fantastic to read a book, or rather musical, that was so lighthearted and funny at every turn of the page. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the song near the beginning of the book as Tiny is explaining how he has always identified himself as gay. He imagines himself as a baby as his neighbors emphasize his sexual orientation as they sing a song called “Oh! What a Big Gay Baby!”(Levithan, 2015, p. 15).

Another example of the humor in this book comes as Tiny describes his first date ever. Again, there is a song with Brad Langley, his crush at the time, somewhat similar to the “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” song. This ends up building the suspense about their relationship in funny, awkward way that any relationship might build up. Then, all of a sudden, Tiny is let down when Brad is confused and doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of dating Tiny (p. 102). Again, this example shows the lightheartedness from Tiny’s perspective as he walks the audience through his life. This humor is why I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

What the Experts Think:

He’s baaack: Tiny Cooper, the larger-thanlife costar of Levithan and John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson (2010), claims center stage in the former’s latest, which-according to its title page-is “a musical in novel form (or, a novel in musical form).” Either way, the book is presented as being a two-act script for Tiny’s epic autobiographical musical, Hold Me Closer. Act 1 charts his childhood and struggle to come out to his family and friends, who are less than surprised by the revelation, seeing how Tiny is, as his friend Will once put it, “the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” With an outsize personality to match his physicality, Tiny is flamboyant and fabulous and, as we learn in act 2, also a hopeless romantic, to the tune of having fallen in love 18 times. (And, yes, all 18 of his exes put in an appearance.) The action is propelled by 25 songs with such titles as “The Ballad of the Lesbian Babysitter,” “Oh! What a Big Gay Baby,” and “Summer of Gay.” This is all as much fun as it sounds, though it has a serious side in its sober examination of the nature of love. Levithan has turned in another star turn with a book that is witty, wise, and well worthy of an encore. -Michael Cart

Cart, M. (2015). Hold me closer: The tiny cooper story. The Booklist, 111(12), 80.
Classroom Recommendations:
I would love to use this book in the classroom with my students. First, I would have them read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by David Levithan. Then, I would introduce this story as comparable to Will Grayson, Will Grayson but from a different perspective. Once the students had read this story, I would have them write their opinion on which one was better and their reasoning using supporting evidence from both texts. As an extra activity, I might have the students write the story from another character’s perspective to add a third person’s point of view to the story. The students could choose to write it as a narrative or more like a musical as in Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. It would be interesting to hear the different versions that the students would create.

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