Book Review by Aarene Storms: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
by Jesse Andrews

Senior Greg Gaines has planned out his last year at Benson High School: he's going to keep an insanely low profile, make lousy films, and survive until June.

It's good to have a plan. A plan makes excellent traction when you crumple it up and drive over it.

And that is, essentially, what happens Greg's plan. His mom greets him at the end of Senior Year Day 1 and tells him that Rachel has cancer, and that he, Greg, will go and befriend her.

If this was a regular book about cancer, Greg and his friends and family would learn a touching lesson about the sweetness of life and the bitterness of death. If this was a book by John Green you would need three boxes of tissues just to face the world after the final page.

But it isn't. Here are a few lines from the final chapter, just to give you a taste of the narrative voice:

...doesn't mean I'll be making a film out of this book. There is no way in hell that is going to happen. When you convert a good book to a film, stupid things happen. God only knows what would happen if you tried to convert this unstoppable barf-fest into a film. The FBI would probably have to get involved. There's a chance you could consider it an act of terrorism....

Greg's sarcastic, self-deprecating voice throughout the story rings true to anyone who has ever been a teen -- or even spoken to a teen lately. However, Earl nearly steals the show several times. I won't quote any lines from Earl, partly because I don't want to spoil the fun of reading Earl in context, and partly because he cusses so much that every other word would be bleeped. And that is absolutely all I will say about Earl, except maybe this:
Great story, great characters, buckets of cussing and talking about sexual situations, but no bare skin except sometimes the bald head of Rachel, which looks (according to Greg and Earl) like Darth Vader when he takes his helmet off: "insanely white, like it had been boiled, and sort of veiny and lumpy." Not exactly an erotic image, but hey: cancer isn't very pretty.

Oh, and by the way: there is a movie.

And according to folks at Sundance, the movie didn't totally suck.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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