Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, young adult
The book that inspired the hit film!
Sundance U.S. Dramatic Audience Award
Sundance Grand Jury Prize
This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death.
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, heart-breaking—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.”
Source: School library
How I Found Out About It: Goodreads
This may sound pretty cliché, but it is true that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is very different from your regular book about cancer and death.
I had been hearing so many good (and not-so-good) things about this book before I dove into its fine pages. You either loved it or hated it, with there being no in-betweens. I have to say that on the spectrum, I definitely fell closer to loving this little piece of fluff!
For a short summary, this book follows a high schooler named Greg. A few years ago, he went to Hebrew school and befriended a girl named Rachel. After a few years of them not having interacted, he finds out that she has developed leukemia, so his mom urges him to make her last days pleasant with his presence. So, with his best friend Earl tagging along, the two decide to support Rachel and do anything they can to make her last days worthwhile.
Greg was a character whom I was able to identify with on so many levels. He was brainy, witty, loyal, fun, hilariously sarcastic at times, and an overall easy-going guy. I understand his reluctance to spend time with Rachel at first- I know I’d probably feel that way too, but I’m really glad that he was able to give in afterwards. I know that being with Rachel changed him for the better, making him much prouder to be the person he was.
The plot of this book was pretty basic; just two boys spending time with Rachel at her house or in the hospital. Honestly, I was fine with that. I can always sacrifice an eventful plot for a nice, character-driven story, and this book was a great example of that.
One other thing I found really refreshing about this story was how it lacked romance and simply focused more on the bonds with family and friends. Most stories like this, such as The Fault in Our Stars for example, incorporate romance, but I’m very glad that in this story, Greg and Rachel became no more than good friends.👌
The ending of this story was pretty predictable, but it still broke my heart in every way possible. Though cliché, maybe, it was still a great ending for this book.
All in all, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a heartwarming, sweet story, and it is definitely lighter than your typical book about death. I’d definitely recommend it for avid YA readers looking for something hilarious but deep, because I know you’ll devour this one!