[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”1419719602″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41lwKUvZMqL.jpg” width=”330″][simpleazon-link asin=”1419719602″ locale=”us”]Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Revised Edition)[/simpleazon-link]
My review: 5 of 5 stars
For a few days now, I’ve been living inside the head of a teenaged boy. I won’t lie. It was fairly disgusting in there. Foul language, sexual thoughts, gross images, and plenty of snarky comments. While Greg Gaines, the narrator, the “me,” in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is everything one would expect a teenaged boy to be, he’s also witty and likeable. As for the book, I was about 2/3rds of the way through when its brilliance struck me.
At first, I was grabbed by the opening line, “I have no idea how to write this stupid book” (p.1). In this short sentence, I knew I was about to encounter an honest, self-effacing, and open character with a compelling story. The format threw me at first. The book stays in character. Having been composed by a teenaged boy, the fonts change periodically, the tone is conversational and snarky, and the narrative isn’t smooth. For a while, I had difficulty reading the book. Being inside the head of an average teenaged boy didn’t help matters.
Because I was aware of the starred reviews by both Kirkus and Booklist and because I had wanted, but failed, to see the movie, I pressed on in my reading of Me and Earl. I was also well aware within the first few pages of why this book would appeal to teenagers, even teenage boys. Me and Earl is not a romance. It is a story of friendship. Not a sappy story but a frank, honest and often hysterical one. Yes, some of the humor was gross boy stuff, but I still laughed.
Greg, it turns out, is an unreliable narrator because despite his openness, he tends to put himself down. When, through his actions and those of other characters, the reader gets to know Greg, the reader learns that Greg cares more and is more talented than he realizes or is prepared to admit. Therein lies Me and Earl’s brilliance as a novel. The author stunned me with the depth of character and heart revealed in this work because it snuck up on me. By narrating the story, Greg keeps the story at a light, gross-out, non-sappy level, while the actual author, Andrews, delivers the unsuspecting reader a powerhouse punch of Wow.
I think I understand my son better. That’s how revealing Me and Earl proved to be. Brilliant.
“I had no way of knowing that as soon as Mom walked in the prime of my life was over. It had lasted about eight hours” (p. 30).
“Not only can cats not act, they also hate wearing clothes” (p. 129).
“…it’s weird to put a date to things anyway. It makes it feel like news or something” (p. 181).
“If you just had headlines from every single day of my life you would get a better sense of how boring and random it is” (p. 182).