Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Published: March 1, 2012
Paperback, 295 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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 leukaemia - 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. 

I quite enjoy a good cancer book. I love reading about characters going through hard situations and trying to turn their lives around, making new friends and rekindling with old ones. Whether they have cancer or their friend does, there is always a moment in the book where all hope is lost and I turn into a ball of pure crying wreck. My emotions are crazy when I'm reading one of these books and there's no telling how it will end, though it's assumed someone will die. They are hard work on your body and mind, but to me they are worth it. They remind me to live my life to its fullest and to tell those I love how I feel. Heartfelt books with meaningful moments and a whole lot of tears. Well, this is a cancer book, but it's sure not one of those books.

Andrews has found a way to make a cancer book into something you can laugh along with. Yes, Rachel has cancer, yes she is dying, but when Greg is the narrator, the sad moments aren't as sad as they could be and this is so realistic. A teenage boy who only really cares about making movies doesn't really understand cancer or why he has to hang out with Rachel just because she's sick. His dialogue is pure teenage boy and from the outside it may look like he's being inconsiderate, that's just how he's reacting to everything that's been thrown at him. What Greg knows is movies and so he does the only thing he knows how to do - he makes a movie for Rachel. The best part is that his movies are awful and very homemade, another realistic aspect to this book - these are just kids and they actually act like kids. At no point did the author make me pity Rachel and that's not to say that I wasn't sad when I knew she wouldn't make it, but that wasn't the point of this book.

It's clear that Andrews is a film guy and that he usually writes for film, but I think this was what made this book stand out the most. The writing is clear and precise and straight to the point. The chapters titles are genius and I loved that most conversations were told in script form. It was a lot of fun to read this book, even though there were some really sad parts. Greg knows what he wants out of life and somehow he manages to get most of it while also making a difference in Rachel's life. If you're looking for a different take on the cancer book, this is the one to pick up. It plays out like a movie and reads like one too. A great change from the other YA books out there.

"If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I do not blame you."

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