Monday, July 6, 2015

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Greg Gaines tells you the story of his senior year.  It's a story that begins with his usual quest for being friends with everyone, but yet not actually being friends with anyone.  Then his mother intervenes and suddenly he's in the middle of a for real friendship with a childhood acquaintance who also happens to have leukemia.  Then Earl (another "friend"), introduces Rachel to the amateur movies they've been making.  These were never supposed to be seen by anybody, and they make Greg more uncomfortable than ever.  Now with his movie making out of the bag, people at school actually seeing him as part of a certain "group", and Rachel's sickness, Greg's life has completely been turned upside-down.  Greg feels like he has no control anymore, and things are about to get ugly...

If a book can make me LOL (like, for real out loud laughing), it's rare.  And for a book to make me LOL in public, in front of strangers... well, I think that has happened one other time.  This book had me laughing all over the fine city of Pittsburgh.  In restaurants, on the bus, at work... it's a funny fucking book.

I was in love on the first page.  It starts out with a "letter" from Greg to the readers of "his" book... and I was hooked.  Greg is so self deprecating, but in all the best ways.  Sometimes he goes a little far with it, but I couldn't help but love and laugh at (with) him for it.  He basically tells you what you are about to read is crap.  And it kind of was.  Not to say this book is a piece of crap.  It's one of those books that is so authentic to the voice, that it really did sound like an 18 year-old boy who doesn't know what the hell he was doing wrote it... while also being a really well written book that is totally by someone who does know what he's doing.  How the hell do you pull that off??

Anyway so Greg and his kind of, sort of friend Earl make really bad movies.  They write, film, and edit ridiculous movies about cats, and crazy German Vikings, and other silly things, not ever expecting (or wanting) anyone to see them.  But then Rachel comes along and becomes their first fan.  Of course Greg is completely embarrassed, and thinks she must be in outer space to have liked anything about what she saw, but regardless, she does.  Rachel is also dying of cancer.  She's got leukemia, and Greg feels obligated to cheer her up.  Or maybe he just wants us to think he feels obligated.  At some point, he genuinely does care about cheering her up, but doesn't know how to deal with those feelings.  The feelings I'm talking about are friendship.  Greg doesn't have friends.  He hangs out with Earl quite a bit and won't even admit that they are friends.  He calls them coworkers.

The thing is, this book isn't sad.  Sure there is a girl with cancer in the book.  That in itself is sad.  There are sad parts.  But this book is frickin hilarious.  This is an immature teenage boy talking and thinking about the most inappropriate things.  But it's inappropriate in all the right ways.

The only thing I wanted was just a tad more from Greg.  This book was obviously not going to be a "lessons" book.  Greg was not going to reflect on life and everything was not going be all HEA.  The author clearly wanted to point out that when shitty things happen to us, there isn't always some big lesson to be learned.  We don't all have that big moment of clarity where we realize the big picture.  At the same time, I wanted Greg to have more of an emotional breakthrough than what he did.  I guess when it comes to books, I expect that grand moment of change and perspective and I didn't get it here.  I get why not, but still it felt like something was missing.  I also wanted to KNOW Rachel more.  She wasn't someone I felt close to by the end of the book.

This book is not a The Fault in Our Stars companion.  If you're looking for the next John Green, look elsewhere.  This is about high school, and friendship, and emotional growth.  It's about laughing.  It's not about love.  It's not about smart kids and heart-wrenching, but beautiful, sadness.

I can't say enough about this book.  I want everyone to read it and find the joy in it that I did.  I want you to LOL on the bus and have strangers think that you've lost your mind.  Seriously I dare you to go in public and read about sexy pillows and not at least grin like an idiot.

OVERALL: The funniest book I've read in a looooong time.  It's inappropriate in all the right ways, and will have you smiling and laughing (out loud if you are anything like me).  It's not a TFIOS book.  At all.  It's a book about friendship, and real life, and how the things that happen to us don't always turn out the way they do in books and movies.

This Book Contains:

  • Pittsburgh!!  -So many cool Pittsburgh things mentioned in this book (Point Breeze, Homewood, Frick Park, Bloomfield, The Steelers, Ben Roethlisburger, etc.)
  • Scenes written in script format
  • Lists
  • Cancer
  • Swearing and some rather crude descriptions
  • Amateur filmmaking
  • Sexy pillows?!?!?
  • Lots of gross food
  • Drugs
  • Friendship

Add it to your To-Read List!!

My Rating: 4/4

Date Published: 3/1/2012
How I got this book: BEA
Publisher: Amulet Books (Abrams)

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  1. Glad to hear you loved it!! I just took the audio out of the library so hopefully in a week or two I will get to it. Great review!

    1. Yay, I hope you love it. I'm pretty curious how audio would be for this book!! I wonder who narrates?

  2. Sounds like such a good read! It's been getting a lot of buzz.

    1. It's so good. I guess it's because the movie just came out... and I can't wait to see that!

  3. I LOVE the book and I have seen the movie 2x already. The first time I did an early screening that the author went to (he wrote the screenplay for the movie, and they filmed the movie in his old high school in Pittsburgh…how cool!). They did a Q&A w/him and it was so interesting how he took the book to a screenplay/movie level. I hope you get to see it soon, Michelle!

  4. I'm glad that you enjoyed this one! I liked it so much, though I lended it to a friend a while ago and I never got the book back!! I'll have to buy another copy I guess. :/ I can't wait for the movie.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  5. I really need to hurry up and read this book, I have heard AMAZING things!!! :) I own it, so I have no excuse. Definitely need to get to it before the film releases here.

  6. Oh man, I want to read this mostly because all the Pittsburgh stuff. But also funny YA contemporary is the YA contemporary that I love. I am now more interested in giving this one a try. Great review!
    Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally