Hot damn. This was a great book. It was somehow more than what I had been expecting, but I hadn’t really been expecting anything.
Why don’t I start by mentioning the writing style? This book is written by the main character, Greg Gaines. Not just narrated by him, but “written” by him. As in, his voice is vividly clear in the text. He rambles, he goes off track, he writes sometimes in bullet points, screenplay format, or however the hell he pleases. But it was done in a way that it made sense. It just really fit together with the essence of the character. Jesse Andrews got away with it, and I applaud him.
Then the characters were all a bucket of fun. I can’t believe I just wrote “a bucket of fun.” This book did strange things to me. Anyway, Greg is a fucking jerk. He’s rude and apathetic, not to mention he’s selfish, unloyal, and critical. He has an infinite amount of flaws. But I could never hate the guy. Why? I don’t really know, but I think deep down I felt just like him. I think he’s so human. He is just honest with himself about everything. He knows and accepts his mistakes and flaws, and although he doesn’t necessarily embrace them, he does try to be a good person. And everyone knows that is no easy task. Then we have Earl, Greg’s coworker, not his friend. Earl was possibly my favorite character. I say possibly because I was also fond of Rachel. But Earl was not only hilarious, he was also thoughtful and caring. He was such a genuine boy and I had so much love for him. But Rachel was so sweet and lovely. I think the non-friendship between Greg, Earl, and Rachel was really nice. Even though their entire relationship was unconventional, and sort of forced, they all cared for each other.
The story had a nice pace. Greg and Earl are amateur filmmakers, in the sense that they remake some of their favorite movies with a video camera and no actors apart from themselves. When Greg finds out Rachel–a girl he kind of dated back in the day and then ignored for no good reason–has Leukemia, he is forced to befriend her, cheer her up, and keep her company. That not only proves to be a complete trainwreck, but it also shows how a different side to the whole concept we’re usually taught in cancer books. I mean, literature seems to be fascinated with cancer. It has been romanticized endlessly. This book does none of that. It shows the reality of life, and that doesn’t always come with a life lesson.
What Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did teach me was that it is okay to be okay with death. And if that wasn’t the message in the book, then fuck the book, that’s still what I took from it. I spent hours laughing at every scene with Earl and rolling my eyes at Greg’s rambling and smiling at Rachel’s infatuation for Hugh Jackman. This felt different to me. It was refreshing and lighthearted despite the topics it dealt with.
I definitely think this is a must-read for anyone into funny stuff, movies, or just bored out of their minds.