Review for Me & Earl & the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews!
Quick View Review:
Characters: ***** (5/5)
Plot: *** (3/5)
Writing Quality: ***** (5/5)
Amazon Rating: **** (4/5)
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. Yet Greg Gaines, who is just starting his senior year, thinks that he has high school all figured out. Greg’s strategy is to keep an incredibly low profile and stay on the fringes of everyone’s social groups. Of course, he does have one sort of friend: Earl, his “co-worker” who helps Greg create mediocre films.
Unfortunately, Greg’s plan lasts exactly eight hours. Because when Greg gets home on his first day, his mom tells him that he has to be friends with a girl who has cancer. This forced friendship brings about the destruction of Greg’s high school life, and his strategy might as well have never existed.
Have you ever read a book that has made you laugh on almost every page? I mean actually laughing out loud. This book did that for me. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl most definitely achieved the author’s goal of being rollicking (which he describes as “an A+ humor word that you can use to signal to anyone in the publishing industry that you are a seriously hilarious person”). Jesse Andrews did a perfect job of combining a serious and sad topic with jokes and laughs. I loved how he included different formats (screenplays, bullet points, and just paragraphs). I thought that it made the book so much more interesting and fun to read. I also loved how Greg admitted that he was actually writing a book. This made it SO much more realistic because rarely does a narrator say that they are writing a book, they just tell us what happens, so this unique factor definitely made the book a lot more believable. Of course, Greg’s whole situation was realistic, too.
The only reason that I gave the plot a 3/5 stars is because (and this isn’t a bad thing) there wasn’t really a conflict that Greg had to solve. The book focused more on exploring Greg’s feelings and thoughts about his relationship with Rachel, Earl, his family, and other people at school instead of focusing on Greg trying to make Rachel feel like her life was worth living and that she should try to fight her cancer. Again, this didn’t mean that the book was boring (it was quite the opposite), but it is a novel that is focused on feelings rather than focusing on taking action and solving a problem.
I also thought that Greg was a relatable and definitely realistic protagonist. There was nothing extraordinary or perfect about him; he was just a high school kid trying to make the best of his situation. His reactions and feelings to situations (other than pretending to be dead) were things that I thought I might do if I were in his shoes. To me, that is a definite sign of a realistic and relatable character.
The other characters’ personalities also seemed realistic and I thought they fit perfectly into the story. Something I loved was seeing Earl’s “softer” side with Rachel: he let her see the Gaines-Jackson (Greg and Earl’s) films, he beat Greg to visiting her at the hospital, and he seemed to genuinely care about Rachel in a way that he didn’t seem to care about anyone else. I’m not saying he was in love with Rachel (he most definitely wasn’t), but he seemed to show concern and just simply care more than most people did.
Overall, this book was rollicking, hilarious, had great writing, had relatable and realistic characters, and although there was no action or conflict in the novel, Jesse Andrews managed to write an interesting and fun book. If you are in the mood for a book that will have you cracking up all the time and yet that talks about serious topics, and if you don’t mind a lot of profanity, then this is definitely the book for you.