“The best ideas are always the simplest.”
Synopsis: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a unique take on the high school centered novel. Greg Gaines narrates his readers through meeting Rachel and her later leukemia diagnosis, his friendship with his hilarious sidekick Earl, and the true horror that is high school lunch dynamics. Greg and Earl create films for fun and when Rachel is diagnosed, it’s suggested to them that they make a film just for her. Written in a myriad of styles, Jesse Andrews is really on to something here. Our narrator illustrates his life using bullet point lists, social commentary, film scripts, and outlines, keeping the reader engaged and interested.
Feelings: This book was really entertaining, as in…I was on a flight to NYC and was laughing out loud while reading this on my iPad. The story has grit and heart and I really enjoyed reading it. I’ve read so many books where characters have some kind of illness that I’ve become a little desensitized to it, unfortunately. So some of the effect of Rachel’s leukemia was probably lost on my robotic soul.
Issues: I only had a couple of issues with the writing in this book. The first issue is a personal one, meaning not everyone will have this problem. The explicit language seemed to quadruple about halfway through the book, then suddenly it was in every other sentence. For me, the punch and heart of the story was lost because of it. Like I said, though…not everyone will agree with that. The other issue I had was that Greg was annoying sometimes. However, I think he was supposed to be. He kept apologizing for his “poor” writing and saying that if the reader were to go to his house and kill him, he wouldn’t blame them.
Characters: I feel a kindred spirit with Greg Gaines. All of his commentary and realizations were so on point with my inner high school self, that I couldn’t help but mostly love him. When he annoyed or frustrated me, I had to remind myself that he’s a high school boy…like he was standing in front of me or something. Actually, now that I mention it, I did a lot of head-shaking in Greg’s general direction. Mostly because of the fact that he and Earl were straight up high school boys.
Some of my favorite quotes from Greg:
- “The answer to your question is on board the S.S. Yes.”
- “Perhaps the actress Yessica Alba can answer that for you.”
- “Please stand by while I forward your question to the President of Yestonia.”
I loved the contrast between Greg and Earl. They’re from completely different backgrounds and yet found a common interest in film-making. I found their friendship intriguing and realistic.
Final thoughts: All I’m saying is that if I get diagnosed with some terminal illness, I want friends like Greg and Earl. Now that I’ve read it, I can allow myself to see the movie. Based on the trailer, it looks like it stuck pretty closely to the book, which is always a win. Finally, while this book is slated as YA lit, it’s content is for readers who are HS upperclassmen and higher.
Pick this up if you liked:
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider (funny, smart, teen novel)
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (similar language, struggles)
Goodreads rating: 3.6/5
Amazon.com rating: 3.7/5
My rating: 3.5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn