Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: March 1st, 2012
Seventeen-year-old Greg has managed to become part of every social group at his Pittsburgh high school without having any friends, but his life changes when his mother forces him to befriend Rachel, a girl he once knew in Hebrew school who has leukemia.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)
I know this is a rather bold statement to be making in March, but this is my Beauty Queens of 2012. What I mean is that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl will top my 2012 list of "Funniest Books of the Year". I have never laughed so hard while reading a book as I did while reading this one. In fact, I'm going to be even more bold and say that this is quite possibly the funniest book I have EVER read. You may find this statement odd, given the fact that this book is about two guys and their friend, who is dying of cancer, but this book is not about cancer; cancer is more like a supporting character... This book is actually about the main character, Greg, and the changes he goes through during his senior year. Yes, Rachel's cancer plays a role in shaping who Greg and Earl become over the course of the book, but in the end, it plays a rather small role.
I had a lots of reasons to love this book, and I really can't think of anything I didn't like about it. That said, I should give a disclaimer: I am an adult, and am not easily offended by profanity, objectification of women and their parts, or crude conversation (in fact, I tend to have a rather crass sense of humor, and often find these things amusing). This book contains all these things and more; it is a true depiction of how a 17 year old boy thinks and talks, and there are people who might find that offensive. If you are one of those people, you might as well skip this book. Now I can get to what I loved...
- This book is written as a stream of consciousness. It's written from the POV of Greg, and it is written as he thinks about and experience. Since, as you may have noticed, I write in much the same way, I like reading things written this way as well.
- Did I mention this book was funny? If Judd Apatow wrote books, they would all read like this one.
- The characters were GREAT! Greg was the hopeless, lovable, self-deprecating kid who is too smart and/or edgy for his own good. Earl was the tough, tell-it-like-it-is, reluctant hero, who also happened to be my favorite. Rachel was the girl with cancer who forced Greg to grow, and Earl to show his vulnerable side. The supporting characters were pretty awesome too. I loved Greg's descriptions of his parents and sisters, Earl's brothers, and his teachers. Honestly, Jesse Andrews's biggest strength had to be in his descriptions of characters. They were just brilliant, and he had me laughing my arse off at every turn.
- Initially you're led to believe that there's not much plot or story line in this book. For a large portion of the book, I thought it was mainly Greg's observations of life; he even goes out of his way, many times, to let you know that, regretfully, this is NOT a book about a kid who discovers himself through his experiences dealing with a friend dying of cancer. Of course, it IS about that, but in a very convoluted way... I have to admit that the final chapter threw me for a loop. I don't want to spoil anything, so I won't tell you why, but I was genuinely surprised, and I NEVER saw it coming.
- The whole film angle was brilliant. Greg and Earl are ginormous fans of B-Movies and recreate many of their favorites over the course of their childhood. They show these to NOBODY, until Earl gives them to dying Rachel in the hopes of cheering her up. Greg is none to pleased, but he reluctantly goes along with it. A lot of the story involves the films and, I found myself wishing there was an interactive component to this book where we could see these films (especially the ones with the sock-puppets).
- The pacing was awesome!!! I mean, I could not go five pages without guffawing, and I couldn't go 25 pages without laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. I'm pretty sure that I peed my pants a little at least three or four times.
- The cover is phenomenal. It is eye-catching, relevant to the story, and so VERY well done. Bravo to the designer!
Really, I could have just written, "This book is made of win, with awesomesauce on top!", but that would not have been much of a review. I have no doubt about the fact that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl will make my Top 25 YA Books of 2012 list. It is a definite favorite, and I hope you all will read it (but ONLY if you are not offended by profanity).
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★+++
Grade Level Recommendation: As I mentioned before, this book is heavy on the profanity, amongst other possibly objectionable things. I would say this is a definite "NO!" for Middle School age students, and iffy for even 9th graders. If this book were a movie, it would definitely be rated R. Because there are no actual visualizations, like in a movie, I'm not putting a 17+ stamp on it, but I am going to say that this is a book that should not be read by anyone younger than High School age. I recommend this book for readers who are AT LEAST 15 and older (grades 10+).