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.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 1st 2012 by Amulet Books
Four Stars: This book will appeal to a select audience, if you are a fan of Catcher in the Rye, you will appreciate this novel.
Reading the title of this book, inevitably you expect to read a story that relates the emotional turmoil and life changing implications of facing death. I am going to tell you that Mr. Andrews is completely honest and informs you right up front, that this is not that kind of book. I admit, I started reading this expecting to find that he was lying and there would indeed be some touching scenes, but let me stress to you, if you are looking for a sweet, sentimental story that will speak to your soul, you might as well move along...this is not the book you are looking for. No, I am not kidding. What you will find is a book that is funny, a plot that rambles all over the place and includes writing in movie script format, bullet points, diagrams, funny aside commentary and other strange antics. Now you are thinking, why would I want to read that? Mr. Andrews answers that in the first pages by telling you that you don't want to read it, and if you do, you will likely want to punch yourself in the eye. Did I want to punch myself in the eye after reading this? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes, but I must emphasize to you that this book is not for everyone. Do you want to read a book that delves into the mind of an average eighteen year old boy, who is a little chubby, dorky, suffers from allergies and consequently runs around with his mouth open? If the answer is no, then move along, no point in reading this review, this is not the book you are looking for....If you said yes, then be prepared for an in your face book filled with what you would expect a normal teenage boy to be thinking about, which is boobs, disgusting gross out things that inevitably refer to parts of the anatomy, and the pain, embarrassment and social awkwardness that most kids endure during their high school years. This book has plenty of foul language as well, which again is typical for a teenage boy. What of the dying girl? There is a girl in the book, Rachel, who was a childhood friend of Greg, our protagonist, she contracts a rare form of leukemia. Greg hasn't said much to her in about five years, so when his mom informs him that Rachel is ill and that he should do something to cheer her up, Greg reluctantly agrees, no drags his feet and is forced into it. This is the one cohesive story line. Greg resumes an uneasy friendship with Rachel and makes it his mission to make her laugh. Now here again, I was expecting the relationship to evolve into something deeper, despite the authors repeated attempts to tell me it wasn't going to happen. After reading the book and discovering that the author's opening lines hold true, I was surprised. Then I realized that this book is probably a more accurate portrayal of a teen trying to deal with someone who has cancer. Greg's emotions are discordant and realistic, for the record he does have a few appropriate feelings. Let's face it, do any of us really know how to handle death appropriately, especially as a teenager? This book lays out a story that is probably an accurate representation of a teenage boy's emotions when shoved into a difficult situation. Aside from the story line of Rachel, the rest of the book is hilarious chaos. If you enjoy a story that babbles on and on with comical dialogue, a lot of it off subject and off the wall, as well as an honest evaluation of the high school scene, then by all means dive into this one. If you are a fan of books like, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, (me, me..that book is awesome) then you will enjoy this book, if you aren't a fan of books filled with swearing, crude sexual references and incoherent rambling then move along...this is not the book you are looking for....
So, I realize you are getting frustrated with this review and want me to get to the point, did I like this book? Yes, I enjoyed it and was highly entertained (just ask my husband who was sitting next to me while I read this and kept snorting and giggling, he finally said, "would you stop making all those noises?") This book made me laugh it was the perfect pick me up, since my reading as of late has revolved around dark dystopian. It is funny and light. You can start this one up when you need a mindless read. Earl, the midget, black, smoking, teenage, best friend with his epic one liners will make you laugh out loud, seriously none of that fake LOL crap that you don't mean, trust me you will laugh, giggle and snort through this one, that is if you have the right sense of humor.
If you are someone who likes wicked, edgy humor then this is your book. If you don't have the appropriate sense of humor, you will likely read this and think, what on earth was she thinking, liking a book like this? She must be a deviant lunatic. To that I will reply, shrugging shoulders...yep.
Bottom line, read this if you are a miscreant with a bad sense of humor. If you want a life changing, speaks to your soul book on cancer and dying, I would suggest A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd (I wrote a really nice review on that one) or A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks. I for one, enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, it was the book I was looking for.
A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Amulet Books, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Now a whole bunch of quotes!
“My point is this: This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts About Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Know We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever.”
“It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks.”
“For the purposes of this god-awful-book, I have to talk briefly about girls, so let’s see if we can get through that without me punching myself in the eyeball.”
“I can’t believe you are still reading this. You should smack yourself in the face a couple of times right now, just to complete the outstandingly stupid experience that is this book.”
“That is one less guy I have to compete with for the most succulent boobs in the Boob Competition that is high school.”
“It was truly a gift from the Comedy Gods: a chubby guy falling down, freaking out, lurching in the direction of the door, and falling down again.”
“It was about the least fun social situation imaginable. If terrorists had burst into the room and tried to suffocate us in hummus, it would have been an improvement.”
“Stoners do not smoke weed in the bathroom. They smoke weed in old NIssan Altimas about a block and a half from the school. Then they are not seen again for hours, sometimes days.”
“No stoner in the history of the world has ever forced anyone to smoke with them. Indeed, many of them are actually delighted not to share weed with you.”
“If after reading this book you come to my home and brutally murder me, I truly do not blame you.”
“This was such a terrible idea that I had to pretend to be dead for five minutes, which was how long it took Mom and Dad to get bored of yelling at me and leave the room. But then when they heard me moving around they came back and we had to talk some more.”
“High school is a nightmare, bud. It might be the worst years of your life.”
“Dad was going through a phase of his own wherein he couldn’t stop pretending to be a cannibal. If we were eating anything with chicken in it, he would pat his stomach and announce, “Huma-a-a-an flesh. TASTE LIKE CHICKEN.”
“This is a dumb-ass piece of food.”
“First of all, let me just say that sock puppets can be way more emotional and expressive than they get credit for.”
“You’re probably hoping that I was sitting there overflowing with love and tenderness. Maybe you should think about switching to a different book. Even to, an owner’s manual to a refridgerator or something. That would be more heartwarming that this.”
“I’m finally getting to the part where my life gets ruined by Mom, and also Earl’s life. Go get some popcorn! This is gonna be awesome. I’ll wait right here.”