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Book review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

meandearlBook review:
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

Published by Amulet Books in 2015.
Originally published by Amulet Books in 2012.

Sometimes I review things late on my own, and sometimes I’m just really late to jump on a bandwagon. In the case of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, the latter is true. I’d only vaguely heard of this book before seeing the trailer for the film adaptation, which I think does a great job of describing the plot, so I’ll just leave that here for you all to digest:

The book itself is pretty funny. I definitely found myself laughing aloud a lot of the time, but it’s also really heartbreaking. It is, after all, sort of about a girl with cancer. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s also about high school, and how you can go to school with the same people for years, but really never take the time to learn anything about them. It’s about using humor as a mask for real emotions and as a replacement for lasting friendships.

Where Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really succeeds is in its narrator, Greg Gaines. Greg has spent his entire high school career trying to remain pleasantly innocuous. His goal is to be friends with both everyone and no one at the same time. While he may think this is a great way to go about life — you don’t offend anyone, you don’t hurt anyone, and in return you’re not hurt or offended– it’s actually incredibly lonely.

One of the most effective parts of this book is how well author Jesse Andrews writes the voice of Greg, who would like you to believe everything was fine in his life up until senior year. The narration only becomes stronger as the book progresses. Greg starts to avoid talking about painful topics. Glossing over them, or cutting to another chapter to avoid facing reality. It’s an interesting tactic, and one I think works really well and is really convincing as the voice of a teenage boy.

Unlike The Fault in Our Stars (which I reviewed here), this book isn’t meant to be too sappy. It’s touching, and heartbreaking, but it doesn’t have the sort of gut-wrenching sadness I felt with TFIOS. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a heartfelt story of friendship and loss, that I’d recommend to lovers of contemporary young adult fiction.


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