Me and Earl and the Dying Girl By Jesse Andrews

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

me earl

This book completed my Goodreads challenge for the year! I met my goal (just barely) with 35 books! Yay! Despite two moves, new job, new city, buying our first house, and getting engaged, I still think next year will be busier as the wedding date approaches. I hope to keep up with my blog in 2013, but if posts aren’t as frequent—you know why.

Ok, back to the review. For my last book of 2012, I was looking for a funny, quick read and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl sure delivered. By the title, you may assume the book is a serious, thought provoking read, but it was actually one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. There was a message about death and dying, but not the typical takeaway message. It was more along the lines of death sucks, and sometimes you don’t learn anything from it. Actually, in Greg’s note at the beginning, he warns readers, ‘this book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts about Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever’.

I must admit, it took me a bit warm to Greg’s voice and the writing style. His teenage frame of mind is quite edgy and in no way G rated. However, I think it’s very realistic of how teenage boys think. Here is a sample of what I mean:

The Greg S.Gaines three step method of seduction

1. lurch into girl’s bedroom pretending to be a zombie

2. go for a fist pound

3. suggest that you habitually masturbate all over pillows

He’s totally awkward and makes sexual references all the time (especially with his friend Earl.) Speaking of Earl, one of favourite parts is when Greg and Earl accidentally ingest marijuana and think it was from their teacher’s soup. It had me laughing out loud!

I can see how the stylistic choices would appeal to reluctant readers. First off, the bright cover art, immediately grabs the reader’s attention. Next, the inclusion of screenplay style, bullet points, and newspaper headlines throughout the book all visually help to break up the text. Also the interesting chapter titles like ‘Earl Betrays Our Entire Creative Partnership While I am Distracted by the Munchies’ are just so much fun! Who wouldn’t want to read that chapter?

Overall, the book was a strange but wonderful contemporary read.  Although nothing really happens, it’s the quirky characters that make the book stand out. This book may not be for everyone but I sure loved it.


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