My Name is Will - Jess Winfield I was leaning toward 3 stars but the last half of this quirky novel pushed it into the 3.6-3.8 range.

My Name Is Will recounts the parallel stories of a critical-year-in-the-life of William Shakespeare and his modern-day namesake William Shakespeare Greenberg (Willie), a prodigal son cruising on auto-pilot through the grad program at UC Santa Cruz. Both he and Shakespeare face life-altering events as young men (Willie's in his 20s, Shakespeare is 18) that force both to focus their minds on what kind of men they want to become. The more interesting storyline is Shakespeare's; Willie's life and goals don't have the same gravitas, and it's only toward the end of the novel, when the two protagonists' lives intersect more and more, that Willie's dilemmas stir the same concern.

One of the greater pleasures of reading is catching all the people, events and even future lines arising in Shakespeare's thread that appear in his later plays and poems. And, on Willie's side, noting the parallels with the Bard's life.

The novel's tone is mostly light hearted but the final 25 pages or so take a more serious, though not unwelcome, turn. The change in tone makes sense and transitions smoothly, making the book a somewhat more profound reading experience than you might otherwise expect.

Verily, be warned, the book's subtitle - "A novel of sex, drugs and Shakespeare" - is accurate. There's quite a bit of shagging, as the British might say, and not inconsiderable drug use (as much in the 16th century as the 20th) so anyone put off by that sort of thing probably won't enjoy My Name Is Will. Otherwise, if you like Shakespeare and are looking for a not-too-heavy read, I can easily recommend it.