Monday, October 30, 2017

Book Review: Me Earl and the Dying Girl

Me Earl and the Dying Girl
Title: Me Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pages: 295
Age Rating: Readers over 13
My Opinion: 9/10

Hi, Readers,

       Sometimes life throws us curveballs.  If you read my last post, you would have easily been able to tell how excited I was to get back to reading and blogging.  Well, unfortunately my aspirations were briefly put on hold due to a minor concussion.  Thankfully, my noggin is almost fully healed, and I was able to finish reading Me Earl and the Dying Girl with only minimal headaches.  Woohoo!

       The "Me" in Me Earl and the Dying Girl is Greg Gaines, a senior in high school who is trying his best to fly under the radar.  He's doing a pretty good job of it, too.  Aside from making home videos with his friend Earl, Greg really doesn't do much of anything. His strategy of solitude is thrown to the wayside when his mom forces him to reconnect with Rachel, a childhood friend who just found out she has cancer.  Understandably, Greg and Rachel have no idea how to interact with one another.  Their encounters together are initially so extremely awkward and uncomfortable that they end up bonding in a strange and twisted way.  After a brief, accidental stint with marijuana caused by one of Greg's high school teachers (crazy, right?), Greg brings Earl to meet Rachel.  The three of them attempt to face the ups and downs of high school, all while dealing with the underlying threat of Rachel's cancer.

Greg and Rachel in the film
Greg and Rachel in the film
       My absolute favorite part about the novel is Jesse Andrews' use of humor in his writing.  Greg Gaines is arguably the funniest narrator I've ever come across in any YA novel.  Andrews perfectly captures the voice of a confused yet spunky senior in high school who is trying to find his way.  I read most of Me Earl and the Dying Girl right before going to bed, and I often found myself cracking up into my pillow.  Greg is one of those narrators that you can't get enough of.  The strongest aspect of his humor is the sheer randomness of his jokes - they come out of nowhere and are shamelessly deadpanned.  Best of all, Greg knows he's crazy and often references his own strange sense of humor in a self-deprecating manner, which makes everything ten times funnier.

       The novel's characters are also a highlight.  Aside from Greg, my favorite character would have to be the teacher, Mr. McCarthy.  His obsession with facts creates for an interesting dialogue because it forces Greg to view the world in black and white at times.  Plus, the scene involving Mr. McCarthy's pho soup is arguably the funniest of the entire novel.  Each character is developed through a series of anecdotal flashbacks instead of through solely description.

TFIOS       Third, I enjoyed Andrews' use of various writing styles.  Of course, the vast majority of the book is standard, with dialogue and description.  However, Andrews' sometimes switches things up by including segments such as dialogue written in the form of movie scripts, long lists of bullets, and random flashbacks.  The movie scripts reflect Greg's film making and serve as an excellent device to draw readers in to the moment and utilize effective dialogue.

       I have to say, the reason I gave Andrews' novel a 9 out of 10 was because of the ending.  Without giving anything away, the only thing I can say is that I wasn't completely satisfied.  I felt that everything was wrapped up a little too quickly and could have used more development.  However, I would still definitely recommend it because the humor makes up for the lackluster conclusion.
       Me Earl and the Dying Girl lends itself to comparison to The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, solely based on the premise of an unlikely friendship involving a teen battling cancer.  However, the main differentiator between the two YA novels would have to be Andrews' humor.  Andrews makes it quite clear that he's not looking to make a social commentary or create a sob story, and he more accurately portrays real life.

       After finishing the book, I am excited to watch the movie version of Me Earl and the Dying Girl.  The film was entered into the Sundance Film Festival, so fingers crossed that it lives up to my expectations.  

Happy reading!

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