Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.
This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.
Fiercely funny, honest, heartbreaking—this is an unforgettable novel from a bright talent, now also a film that critics are calling "a touchstone for its generation" and "an instant classic."
Review: This isn’t your typical dying-kid novel, which is great because I usually hate those things.
Seventeen-year-old Greg is a social outcast at his school—and he likes it that way. His only friend is Earl, and the only thing they do together is make terrible movies. Greg’s life is just the way he wants it, until his mother forces him to spend time with Rachel. Rachel has just been diagnosed with leukemia. Greg has no idea how to help her feel better. He decides to make her a movie, but it turns into the worst movie ever made, and suddenly the whole school is looking at Greg. This book is part novel, part screenplay, and part bullet point list.
Like the back cover says, this is “The funniest book you’ll ever read about death.” I was laughing pretty much the entire time I was reading. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard at a book.
The best part of this novel is its realism. Cancer is not romanticized, and there is no sappy love story. Greg and Rachel are very realistic characters. They are both flawed and far from perfect. Sometimes, Greg does not want to deal with Rachel’s illness because it’s difficult and depressing. He just wants to hang out with Earl and be a regular teenager. This is a very normal way for a teen to feel, and the author does not vilify Greg for it. I love that.
I also love the dialogue. It’s vulgar, disgusting, and full of swear words. It sounds exactly like how I talked to my friends when I was a teenager.
Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I did have a few issues with it. First, Greg got on my nerves pretty often. I wanted him to shut up and stop criticizing himself and the book. It seems like every few pages he says, “This book sucks. I don’t know why I’m writing it. I suck.” It’s funny the first few times, but then it just gets obnoxious.
I also have a slight problem with Earl. He’s a great character, but he doesn’t feel as complex as the other characters. The way he acts and speaks makes him seem like a stereotype of an inner-city black teenager. I wish we got to know him better so that he seemed more human.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a quick, hilarious read. It has a few problems, but I would still highly recommend it.