REVIEW: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl - Jesse Andrews


Stuck on a two-hour delayed Megabus, I found myself scouring through my Kindle to see what books I had been hoarding on there for months. After watching the trailer for Me And Earl And The Dying Girl last year, I’d downloaded the book from Amazon and, of course, had never gotten round to reading it. With no time like the present I got stuck in.

Flash forward three hours and I was almost finished. This easy-going teen novel is essentially a rip off of John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars but minus the love story. As it lacked action, any real positivity or hope, Jesse Andrews’ Me And Earl And The Dying Girl wasn’t quite up to the same standard as TheFault In Our Stars but nonetheless it was a funny, moving story. Protagonist Greg Gaines is informed that a previous love interest of his (if you could really call Rachel that) is suffering from leukaemia. This sparks a rekindled friendship between Greg and dying girl Rachel, which also includes Greg’s sidekick Earl.

The novel is narrated by Greg and as a result his character is thoroughly developed and explored. On the down side, this means that Rachel is somewhat left in the dark. There’s very little insight to what happens during her illness, literally all that changes is her hair falls out and she becomes moodier, suggesting that the author Jesse Andrews didn’t really bother to do any research. There’s not phases of denial, anger, acceptance or personal insight to Rachel’s looming death which almost normalises it so that the actual dying part lacks drama. While teenagers can be detached, as Andrews manages to show, they can also be affected by life to exaggerated extremes. That’s exactly what this novel lacks. Likewise, Earl had all the qualities of a sidekick but nothing special. Essentially, he’s just a stock character used for comedy value.

“You can know someone is dying on an intellectual level, but emotionally it hasn’t really hit you, and then when it does, that’s when you feel like shit.”

Greg and Earl are amateur filmmakers and encouraged by Rachel’s friend Madison to make a film for Rachel before she dies.  You’d assume this film would become the most touching moment of the book – it really isn’t. Jesse Andrews captures the cynical voice of the average teenager wonderfully, almost too well though as this prevents the story from being happy in the slightest. However, I related to the feelings Greg experiences when it doesn’t quite seem real that Rachel is dying. He talks to her about her plans for college and suppresses the part of his brain which is unravelling with fear.

Ironically, at the end of the novel Greg narrates that he does not wish the work to be adapted for film. “There is no way in hell that is going to happen. When you convert a good book into a film, stupid things happen.” Of course, Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is more popular a film than book. I've since given it a watch - the book is better!

Get yourself a copy of the book here.

Love, Jess

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