Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (Jesse Andrews) – Book Review

I’ve been wanting to read Me and Earl and The Dying Girl for a little while, I bought it a while back on a slight whim, browsing the book aisle of Tesco as I often do I came upon it and recognised the title. I’d seen the trailer for the film and I really liked how it looked, so I grabbed it, but as mentioned before I haven’t had much time to casually read because I have to read every week for my course anyway!

Nevertheless I started reading it this week and was finished within two days, feeling fully satisfied. It is often a sad time when you’ve been away from reading for so long to come back to it, and read a bad  book, but to come back and read a book like Me and Earl was a nice surprise. It was one of those books that feels incredibly personal to me. I haven’t been through the same things as Greg in Me and Earl but the style of the book and it’s narration, and the clumsy, on-reflection nature of Greg is incredibly similar to mine. Which in a book written in the first person is always handy.

But first, let me give you a very brief summary of the book! Greg is an odd, but lovable teenager in his senior year of high school, who has gone through his whole life on the fence between groups so as not to alienate himself from one because of another. When an old friend of his, whom he ended on strange terms with is struck with Leukemia, his mother tells him to befriend  her again. He does so with reluctance, and we see how his friend Rachel and her condition has an effect on his life. We see him care for her, and we see those around him touched by his devotion to her while he believes he does not care at all. Throughout this story, his best friend Earl offers a different, wider and ultimately more grounding perspective of the whole thing that leads to many epiphanies, confused emotions and conflicts.

There are a few things that bother me a little such as the often (in my opinion) over-done colloquialisms of Greg and Earl that feel more like the author trying too hard to slot into the YA category when there really was no need to. The book has everything that a YA book should include, it is a perfect example of the genre, so whether it is intentional or not, for me, the constant inclusion of “like” and things like that seem a little too forced. Certain cultural stereotypes could also cause anger or frustration among readers and I’m sure it has however, this doesn’t bother me, because at no point does Andrews profess that anything in the book is the truth of every culture or situation. So instead it just provides quite a nice atmosphere and level of depth to each character.

The friendship of Greg and Earl in general is a really nicely developed one, they are completely different and they admit that, but they help each other, not in some hugely spiritual way but in the way anyone could ever need. Whats more is that Earl, despite his own life and supposed lack of intelligence, serves as an eye opener for Earl, he is honest and he speaks all of the truths that we can see but Greg can’t.

From start to finish, despite differing forms of narrative (bullet points, script excerpts etc) the book feels incredibly fluid and we follow Gregs perspective and journey gladly and with intrigue. For anyone that has been awkward in high school or who craves laughter or some form of recognition while at the same time being incredibly embarrassed of everything, its a relatable series of events.

Perhaps what struck me the most was the happily untied elements of the book. In a totally great way. Right from the start Greg told us, through his narrative, that it would not be a happy, stereotypically romantic book or even a typical cancer book. Instead we get to the end and we have a great feeling of what could have been, but that just isn’t for varying different reasons. It’s realistic, it’s honest and it’s a fun read.

Rating: 4/5

Currently Reading: The Woman Who Stole My Life – Marian Keyes

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