Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

meandearlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Published: 3-1-12 by Harry N. Abrams
Get the book: Amazon, The Book Depository

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.

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Art direction – Chad W. Beckerman     Character illustrations – Brian Levy     Chapter openers – Meagan Bennett      Rating – 5/5

This is one of my all-time favorite covers. I love how it’s divided into 3 sections, yet it still feels unified. Everything looks like it’s a paper cutout, and the strings are a nice touch. I love the details, like how some of the things are crooked, and how you can see all the shadows. The slim white outline around the figures is perfect to make them stand out, and the black horizontal lines act as top and bottom borders as well as dividers. Plus, the back cover of this book is the back of these scenes, which is just the coolest touch.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a book that has a girl with cancer in it, but isn’t sappy and isn’t exactly about Rachel’s cancer. Greg breaks the fourth wall pretty often to address the reader – mostly to tell you what an awful book he’s writing. This book focuses on Greg and Earl – their lives, their movies, and their attempts to be good friends to a dying girl. These two both generally consider their own lives to be dead-end, so what do they do when someone’s life is actually coming to an end?

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  • funny – This book is unexpectedly hilarious. Greg is constantly saying how his story is not heartfelt or full of learning moments, but I still kind of thought it would happen that way in the end. It didn’t. I really enjoyed reading it because Greg is a great narrator, although he does make tons of mean jokes about himself.
  • Rachel – Rachel is a really good friend to Greg, and I love her character. She isn’t overly mopey about her leukemia – no cliches here. She appreciates Greg and Earl’s films, even though they think of them as failures, and she gets invested in Greg’s future. Greg and Rachel aren’t even that close of friends, so it’s awesome that Rachel cares not only about herself, but about what happens in her friends’ lives when she’s gone.
  • nothing’s perfect – Whenever Greg visits her in the hospital, Rachel’s tired and weak, not up for laughing or being overly sentimental. Greg has almost less than zero idea how to interact with Rachel, especially since they weren’t really friends before her cancer. Greg and Earl’s films end up falling short of what they want. Their grand masterpiece movie for Rachel ends up lame, and there’s no magical moment of the school coming together in support.

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  • Earl’s family – Earl’s brothers are jerks – to each other, to Earl, to Greg. Earl’s mom is around, but Greg has no clue what she does and never sees her. Seeing how Earl’s brothers treat people, it’s easy to see why Earl’s angry most of the time.
  • slow plot – I found myself decently far into this book, wondering when the plot was going to pick up. Much of it is Greg’s stories about when he was younger, in middle school and earlier. These stories aren’t very interesting either, because they’re mostly about Greg being ridiculously awkward around his classmates, like Rachel. Greg also describes his tireless methods to avoid anyone at the high school actually becoming his friend or forming an opinion about him.
  • Greg + Earl – I really wish Greg and Earl had goals for their lives. Greg starts failing his classes but doesn’t care because he has zero goals or hopes for his future. Earl has a bad family situation and brothers who haven’t really done anything with their lives. No one should have everything figured out in high school, but these two are just painfully aimless.

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I could tell Rachel wanted to bring up the films, but she didn’t, which was good, because I was fully prepared to pretend to be dead again. But in a hospital that’s less acceptable as a conversation-changing tactic.    – Greg   p. 187

 

And then we sat and didn’t say anything for a while. You’re probably hoping that I was sitting there overflowing with love and tenderness. Maybe you should think about switching to a different book. Even to, like, an owner’s manual to a refrigerator or something. That would be more heartwarming than this.     – Greg   pg. 261

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3 Robots

Acquired: library (ebook)

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