Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Star Rating: 4/5
Date Read: May 29th to 30th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is not your average cancer book. If you’ve seen any other reviews or know anything about this book, then that’s a given. As we are told by our narrator, Greg Gaines, there’s no life lessons to be learnt, no heart wrenching romance to cry over. There’s just a couple of guys and a really sick girl, but there’s more here than even Greg himself realises.
Greg Gaines is a bit of a floater, he’s friendly with everyone and is coasting his way through senior year when one day his mum gives him the news that his childhood friend, Rachel, is sick with leukemia. Greg hasn’t spoken to Rachel in years but his mum urges him to renew the friendship, telling him Rachel will really need her friends right now. After an awkward and somewhat rocky start, the two friends fall into a bit of rhythm (but definitely not love) as they each learn to deal with her illness.
The first thing that needs to be said about this novel is that it is funny. No, scratch that, it is shoulder-shaking, laughing-in-public-while-reading-on-the-train, gasping-for-air hilarious. I had to shut the book many times because most of the time I was reading on the train and people think there’s something wrong with you when you start laughing out loud for apparently no reason. Should a cancer book be funny? It’s not the cancer I was laughing at. It was the internal monologue of our narrator Greg and the antics of his best mate Earl (from the title) that had me in stitches. There is a deeper story here, though, than just Greg and Earl and the girl Greg was forced to befriend, just because she was dying. It is learning to comprehend and deal with life and loss for the first time, and of course the beauty, the awkwardness, the confusion of friendship.
This book felt realistic, had fantastic characters and was a joy to read, though I shed a tear or two when the inevitable end crept up too quickly. This was a fantastic book. I loved it.