|TITLE: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl AUTHOR: Jesse Andrews|
PUB: Amulet Books (ABRAMS) PUB DATE: 3/1/12
FORMAT: ARC, 295 pgs
SOURCE: from publisher for review
Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl make her a movie, and Greg must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.
THREE WORDS: Funny, Honest, Moving...three more words: Has Sock Puppets *giggles*
MY REVIEW: Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl took me by surprise with its ability to make me laugh, infuriate me and have me on the verge of tears, often in the span of a single page.
Seventeen year Greg Gaines has somehow accomplished the seemingly impossible- made it to his senior year of high school maintaining a “friendly” acquaintanceship with every group/clique in his school without truly belonging to any of them. Greg and his only real friend, Earl, make their own movies but don’t share them with anyone else…until Rachel happens. Greg and Rachel were friends when they were younger but haven’t spoken in years, but after Rachel is diagnosed with leukemia Greg’s mother insists he hang out with her. And somewhere along the way Greg and Earl are roped into making a film for dying Rachel, and Greg’s comfortable invisibility vanishes forever.
Moving and poignant in entirely unexpected ways, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is brash, profane, funny, relentlessly honest and at times almost hard to take, but in the best way possible. This isn’t your clichéd sappy, profound YA “cancer” book full of true love or life affirming moments…so if that’s the kind of story you’re looking for then this book probably isn’t for you.
The writing style in this book is to the point, unique and quite addicting. I read this book in one sitting, simply unable to put it down and the Greg’s story has continued to stick with me. Andrews offers readers a coming of age story that is heartbreaking and intense, but also easy and okay to laugh with and even at. With a pitch perfect voice, tone and dialogue this book feels and sounds authentic.
Greg Gaines is not always an easy character to like, nor do I think he is supposed to be, but he is always easy to relate to. Awkward (at times painfully so), unintentionally inconsiderate and insensitive, and at time abrasively humorous, he is both uniquely Greg and just like every other high school kid. I didn’t always like his choices or how he treated people, but I always felt invested in his story. Earl is an incredibly realistic and well-crafted character. There’s something oddly complex and endearing in his simplicity and unabashed honesty. Then there’s Rachel, the dying girl. I found myself neither loving nor hating Rachel, which I like to think is exactly what Andrews intended. I truly felt for her character, but I appreciated the fact that Andrews didn’t insist or force his readers to love her simply because she has cancer.
Throughout the book Greg insists that it isn’t a book where the characters all learn profound life lessons…and it really isn’t. But that’s okay. And that in itself is pretty profound.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Jesse Andrews’ Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a refreshingly eclectic, and at time weird story that explores the pain, awkwardness and unexpectedness that comes with growing up. Is this book for everyone? No. The subject matter, although approached with humor, is often intense and dark, but strikingly deep. I found Me and Earl and the Dying Girl to be an enjoyable and touching debut novel.
Jesse Andrews is a writer, musician, and former German youth hostel receptionist. He is a graduate of Schenley High School and Harvard University and lives in Brooklyn, New York, which is almost as good as Pittsburgh.