Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Reviewed by Meygan Cox

Greg Gaines is a high school student just trying to survive his senior year and so far, so good. He makes friends with everyone and by “friends,” I mean that he knows them well enough for them not to call him obscene names or give him wedgies. However, he’s not close enough friends to sits with anyone in particular in the school cafeteria or hang out with anyone after school. In fact, he only has one true friend, Earl, and even he and Earl aren’t all that close. Greg enjoys being in the background and he has only one mission: finish high school with no enemies nor close friends. 

As if Greg isn’t awkward enough, he describes that his physical appearance isn’t much to be desired either. So what does Greg have going for him? Well, he likes to make people laugh with his inane sense of humor, often comparing his lunch to alien barf. But Greg doesn’t want to become too personal with his classmates, so he limits his interactions to making people laugh and the occasional, “Hello, how are you?” Then one day his mother informs him that Rachel, a girl he dated in middle school to make another girl jealous, has been diagnosed with leukemia. While Greg empathizes with Rachel’s situation, he doesn’t understand why his mother is telling him this. But the more he listens to her, the more he realizes that she wants him to hang out with Rachel. That would require Greg to speak to someone that he hasn’t spoken to in years. This would also require Greg to break his rule about not hanging out with people after school. Greg is conflicted, but his mother quickly makes his decision for him—he will hang out with Rachel or  face the wrath of his mother. He chooses the former, and so he finds himself anxiously standing in Rachel’s room, staring at a girl who he knows nothing about other than she laughs at his jokes. 

There is one thing that Greg does in his spare time that he doesn’t allow anyone else to know—he and Earl make homemade action videos. Often the videos are remakes of movies, but some of the movies are based on their original ideas. When Earl tells Rachel about the homemade movies, she is wants to watch them. Rachel actually enjoys the videos, which is why when Madison (one of Rachel’s friends) tells Greg that he must make a video for Rachel, he can’t find a reason to say no. Despite Greg’s desire to survive his senior year of high school going unnoticed, he reluctantly agrees to create a one of a kind video for Rachel.

Let me say that when I first started reading this book, I was absolutely in love with the storyline. I found the author’s writing style to be enjoyable and I liked all of the characters. However, Greg’s snarky attitude started to get on my nerves. About page 150, I just found him to be exasperating. A strong beginning deserves a stronger ending, but I feel that I never got that from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. This young adult book is being adapted into a movie and although I may end up eating these words, I have a feeling that this will be one of those rare cases where the movie triumphs the book. 

Update:  The movie version of the book earned very good reviews, but we have yet to find a Tri-Cities venue which is showing it.

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