Okay, so I thought The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, was going to be the most unique, non-cancery YA novel I read about teens with cancer. I was wrong though. Me Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews, fits even less into the genre of teenage cancer stories most of us have grown to know and cringe over. In these books, it is most common for a young man to meet and fall in love with an inspirational young girl with cancer. While the girl dies, the book celebrates how strong and wise she became. And the whole point is how much the boy learns from the whole experience. If you’re looking for that kind of book, aside from examining your motives, I suggest you listen to me and the first lines of this book when we both tell you THIS IS NOT THAT KIND OF BOOK.
Greg is a sociological genius at being on the good side of literally every social group, while not belonging to any of them. Some people might think this is a lonely way to get through high school, but Greg is happy with the situation. He lives a drama free life and saves his energy for making movies with his only real friend Earl.
This all changes when his mom makes him reconnect with his childhood friend Rachel, who recently was diagnosed with leukemia. As people start paying Rachel more attention because of her illness, Greg’s association with her puts him in the spotlight too. This becomes even more true, and disastrous, when he and Earl get talked into making a movie dedicated to Rachel.
So what’s different about this book, is that most of the relationships seems to make all the characters lives worse instead of better. In fact, even though I was impressed by the book, I can’t say that I enjoyed it all that much. The characters were well drawn, but I had a hard time connecting to them. I also didn’t think the book’s sense of humor really matched with mine. I hate to admit it, but the whole thing was a little too irreverent for me.
However, a lot of people really love this book. And if you are looking for a book that looks at friendship, illness, and film through a unique lens then I can’t think of a better suggestion.