“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” by Jesse Andrews is a story about a senior in high school who’s just trying to live his day to day life on friendly-but-not-friendship level turns with every major group in his school. He has one friend, Earl, whom he hangs out with and makes films with. One day his mom forces him to hang out with this girl named Rachel, and soon finds out that she has leukemia. Greg (the main character) and Earl decide to make a film for Rachel, but what will it be about?
Okay, well, this book confused me quite a bit. To understand why, let me take you through a few things first.
I can understand where the humor would upset a lot of people. I wasn’t laughing at anything, really, and was offended and unnerved by some of the things that were said in the book, but at the same time I can understand cultural and regional references as to how people talk or act and stuff like that.
I felt that the plot, or at least the majority of it, had nothing to do with Rachel or her disease or making a film about/for her. It was all over the place, talking about different people, different things, and some of it felt like it really didn’t need to be there.
I thought the first third of it was good and coherent, but when the parts with Rachel surfaced, we barely even got to know her. It was kind of frustrating because it is called “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.” Not “Me,” or “Me and Earl Make Films,” or whatever.
Okay, so I thought the main character, Greg, or the “writer” of this book (since this book’s POV is from that of someone writing a book) was very selfish. He was also kind of clueless in a lot of places. I thought his heart was in the right place on a few occasions, but it was otherwise just him rambling about his days and what he did and how much his films sucked. I found him to be extremely frustrating and annoying.
Earl was a more complex character, but wow was he a potty-mouth. I understand teens swear, and the environment in which they grow up in can affect that, but wow. Was not expecting that. It was kind of annoying at times, but I did enjoy trying to read his parts in his voice with an accent I can only imagine. I liked him in a “he’s cool” way. Well… yeah. I honestly don’t know what to say. I did like, though, that he really understood the situation and that he tried to get Greg to understand and see it, too.
Rachel was a sweet, quiet girl suffering through a life-sucking disease. We barely got to see her or get to know her at all throughout the book, which I thought was frustrating because, again, it should have included her more, in my opinion.
The plot of the book is a tough one to explain. It’s from the perspective of a teen who has just lived through these events, but sometimes it read like a novel, other times like a screenplay. It was confusing a lot of the time, and other times it felt like it didn’t serve a point. I thought that some of the chapters or paragraphs were filler while others made a bigger impact. It really focused in on how much “Greg sucks” and how down on himself he is a lot, and I think that was probably the most frustrating.
Unfortunately I don’t really know what to think about this book. I think that it was definitely different from the kind of books I’m used to reading, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I might see the film and do a film review of it later on, but I’m still deciding as I was very confused by this book.
I rate this book 3/5 stars.