“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlI intended to see the movie. I really did. That’s why I went and bought the book. But then I forgot. At least there’s Netflix.

Quick summary:

From Goodreads:

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.

My thoughts: (minor spoilers)

I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts on this one so I’m just going to write this all out and hope it flows well. I won’t post if it’s too confusing.

I think it sucks when you decide to read a book because of its movie’s previews but forget to watch the movie after reading the book. If I hadn’t enjoyed this book, I would be upset and think reading it was a waste of time; but since I did enjoy it, I don’t mind so much.

I was also curious about this book because it deals with sickness — cancer — and dying and I wondered if it would be like The Faults In Our Stars. I hoped it wasn’t because I disliked that book so I was glad to find that this one is totally different.

Characters

I enjoyed the story. It’s not raved about as much as The Fault in Our Stars is but I find the main characters in this story more believable than TFIOS’s. I’m not a fan of the protagonist, Greg, since he is immature, but I like that he matures as the story goes on. He’s portrayed as an unwitting comedian and while most of his jokes made me chuckle a little, some weren’t funny, especially those he cracked as Rachel (the dying girl) became sicker and sicker. But I don’t think the author intended for those jokes to be funny. Well, I hope he didn’t. As the story progresses we realize that Greg cracks jokes to hide his awkwardness. It’s how he navigates difficult situations. So when he finds it hard to acknowledge and deal with Rachel’s illness, he cracks stupid, lame-ass jokes.

And as annoying as those jokes were, I liked how they were used. I liked that Greg relied on them more and more until it was too late. I like that he figures out how to make the best movie for Rachel after she passes and that he realizes how much of a jackass he is then as well. As messed up as that may sound, I think him figuring out things so late is quite accurate because many times in the real world we don’t find the answers until it’s too late and we’ve missed our chance to say goodbye.

Earl was on point. From his home life to the way he spoke and acted out, it was believable. I like that he was the more mature one though he’s a bit of a comical character as well due to his small size and large temper. I would like to read his story. I found him much more interesting than Greg.

Dialogue

My favorite feature of the story was the dialogue. I like that it’s presented as a movie script, which to me was refreshing. I don’t mind the usually form for dialogue (separate line and quotation marks) but the movie script form was different and a welcomed change. I also liked how the characters — Greg and Earl — spoke. They have a filthy mouth but when I reflected back to my high school days, that’s how many guys spoke when hanging with their bros.

The Mother

I didn’t like her. I guess she was included for comedic effect as well like Greg’s dad and cat but she was extremely annoying, especially when she became convinced that Greg’s videos were “art” and gave it to his school to be shown to everyone. I liked the lecture Greg gave her at the hospital about her deeming the movies as art simply because they are hard to understand but even then she didn’t get it. She doesn’t seem to respect her son much.

A bit out of context but the New York Time’s Book section has a conversation on this topic: Do We Mistake Inaccessibility for Brilliance?

Overall: ★★★★☆

I gave it four stars because I really enjoyed the story. I don’t have much to say other than the scraps mentioned above. I would recommend it if you’re curious or just want something to read to entertain you and pass the time.

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7 thoughts on ““Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on 2015: Reading | Zezee with Books

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  3. I’m actually planning on reading this book quite soon, I might even start it today, lol. I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now, especially since the movie’s been released too. I’m glad to see that although it didn’t blow you away or anything, it was still an entertaining read. 😉 Great review!

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