Book Review: “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”
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Greg Gaines is an awkward, very self-loathing, high school senior. He is the kind of guy who is acquaintances with everyone, due to his consistent effort in keeping a very low profile, and by infiltrating every stereotypical high school group: Rich Kids, Nerds, Jocks, “Middle-Class African-American Junior Sub-Clique 4c” to be more specific. Through this, he makes a very successful effort in avoiding enemies.
His true friend is his best friend (co-worker) Earl whom he makes terrible films with, his last one being “The Worst Film Ever Made.” However, the one thing Greg isn’t ashamed to say is high school stinks—in fact most things do—for example the fact his mom is forcing him to start hanging out with his sixth-grade sort of ex-girlfriend Rachel again, due to her Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.
This book is in first person point of view in the sense of Greg isn’t just narrating it; he’s actually the writer. He notifies the reader in the beginning that this book isn’t going to contain any important life lessons, or contain any single sentence paragraphs that are supposed to be interpreted as deep due to their italics. Greg’s example of that being: “The cancer had taken her eyeballs, yet she saw the world with more clarity than every before.”
This book is also very realistic in the sense it doesn’t contain any perfect characters; every person mentioned in this book has flaws. Greg is very pale, chubby, and has a constant booger problem. Earl is short, looks really young, and his default mood is less than negative. Rachel isn’t exciting to talk to, has large teeth, and extremely frizzy hair.
Moreover, Greg doesn’t cry when he finds out Rachel has cancer, in fact, he feels completely awkward about her whole situation, all he knows how to react to the news is by saying “it sucks,” and he tries to empathize with her the least he can.
Rachel is not a beautifully inspiring fighter, because she does give up. And most important of all, this book is not a love story. Greg’s narrative is extremely cynical, comedic, and true to himself. Greg, Earl, and Rachel really have no way of handling her hard circumstance, besides just living life.
Cancer isn’t the leading role in this story, Greg is. Through it he’s just trying to finish senior year, and try to understand who he is with cancer as just another situation on the way.
This book by Jesse Andrews is extremely raw, very laugh inducing, and an inventive twist on tragedy. Although romance novels involving the “beautiful tragedy” of cancer are popular at the moment, this book is definitely not one of them.
It also is a movie, which was released on June 12, 2015.