Monday, April 22, 2013

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
March 2012 by Harry N. Abrams
295 pages
Amazon + Good Reads
4/5 stars

"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 make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

All at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight."
-Good Reads

*FTC Disclaimer - I read this book via my county's library. I am in no way being compensated for reading or reviewing this book. 

**Please note that this book may contain spoilers - read at your own risk! 

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has been making its way around BookTubia (the book-centered community that exists on YouTube) for quite some time and had gained some serious hype. I don't know if it was due to the fact that popular BookTubers were shouting it out left and right or if its subject material (read: teen cancer) just happened to come along at the right time (that is, during the post-TFiOS craze) - but it has been on my radar for quite some time.

I found a copy of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl at my local library and decided to pick it up. If it didn't live up to the hype and I didn't like it - I was only out of the time spent reading it. As you probably have guessed, I really did enjoy reading it... and here's why: 

  1. The story is set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although I am not native to the Pittsburgh area, my entire family is - parents included. I have a highly romanticized notion of Pittsburgh in my head - every major holiday was spent there, some of the only times that I spent with my extended family were in Pittsburgh, and... well, its just a great city. The setting was instantly familiar to me and I felt an easier connection to the characters. I knew what Andrews was talking about (I wouldn't consider any of my family "yinzers,"... okay, maybe some...) and have been to most of the areas mentioned.
  2. The main character, Greg Gaines, very much read like one of the teen characters from movies such as Super Bad or Juno. In fact, most of the time I pictured Greg as Jonah Hill's character from Super Bad: a self proclaimed fat kid who is incredibly awkward and who more often than not says the most inappropriate things at the most inappropriate time. Granted, the crass sexual jokes were slightly toned down in MaEatDG (the title is just too dang long to keep typing out) but I'm pretty sure the word "pussy" appears at least three times. If you're a fan of the aforementioned movies, chances are you'll probably enjoy this book... but if you're not a fan and tend to be offended by the crude language? I'd steer clear. 
  3. Rachel's cancer kind of takes a back seat in this story. After the trauma of reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, it was refreshing to read a book that had cancer in it... but wasn't about cancer. Let's be honest - one can only take so much of a Hazel/Augustus-type story without crumbling into an emotional heap of ashes. Greg does indeed react to Rachel's cancer and does have to deal with it eventually, but when she dies... it's a simple line in the book - almost an after thought. We knew she was going to die, knew it from the title, and so Greg didn't make a massive deal out of it. After all, the story is about his growth - not Rachel's. 
  4. The characters read like true teenagers. The only reason that Greg interacts with Rachel to begin with is because his mother forces him to... and he doesn't act like a hero about it either. In fact, he reminds the readers throughout the entire story that he doesn't fall in love with Rachel, he didn't really want to be there to begin with, and that he'd really rather be anywhere else than hanging out with a sick girl. Yeah, he's kind of a jerk but I really appreciated reading a character that could actually exist.
Well, there you have it. Have you read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!


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