2 March 2012
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Release Date: March 1st 2012
Publisher: Amulet Books
Add it: Goodreads
I have no idea where to begin with this book... At first glance, it appears very poorly written, unstructured, messy and just all over the place. For example, the narrator, Greg Haines talks about his friend Earl and then says something along the lines of "Oh yeah, I should probably introduce you to Earl hey?". It's like you're having a conversation with him and that he really has no idea where to begin or what to say, but this is the beauty of it.
The entire novel basically tells you to stop taking life so god damn seriously! You can't control everything that happens around you, and this is what I think the main moral of the story is. Greg used to try to control everything. He didn't want any actual friends, but he didn't want any enemies either. Once he has to hang out with cancer-stricken Rachel, he learns that things can be out of your control and sometimes you have to just deal with it.
Some of the chapters are basically entirely compromised of lists. Dot-point lists and 'subtitle lists', so please allow me to write my review like that :)
This is how the "subtitle" list worked:
Now, this writing technique had had my mind reeling, I was incredibly confused as to whether this is what Jesse Andrews intentionally meant to do. Turns out, it was. Once it was all wrapped up, it made complete sense! NOW. That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading it! Because I did! Greg was absolutely hilarious, he made jokes about every 3 sentences and I could sort of relate to him in a way because, I make people laugh when I don't mean to (or if I trip over nothing/run into a pole or something). When I actually try, I just end up mocking myself or make a really lame joke on purpose and I do this thing where I slap my knee and say "AHHH HAAAAA. Aren't I hilarious.." . MOVING ON. Greg was genuinely funny. He did this. He made fun of himself and was well-aware of the fact that nobody is perfect. I do wish that Greg stopped making fun of himself sometimes though, but that was just how he was and I guess how he dealt with stressful situations. Despite there being no real plot or character development, this was okay because you were too busy laughing!
I also loved the fact that Greg makes films:
I studied film, technique and screen arts as part of my first year of uni. The films mentioned, such as "Walk Lola Walk" and "Cat-a-blanca", made me giggle. Alot. Because the movies these were based off of, were two of the movies that we had to study to the 'nth' degree as part of the unit. I unfortunately can't relate to Greg wanting to pursue directing though. I made a 5 minute short movie with 2 other people, and it took 3 days of straight shooting and 9 hours of straight editing. And because I know that, I know that Greg is obviously incredibly patient and actually really clever.
Some quotes, because this book was so funny:
'...including Brandon, who is thirteen and probably the most violent and aggressive of the bunch. (For example, he has a huge painful-looking neck tattoo that says "TRU NIGGA" next to some pictures of guns.'
(On his Dad) 'Around the house he usually wears a muumuu, which is essentially a blanket with holes cut in it, and he talks to the cat, Cat Stevens, as if he were a real human being.'
I'll try to tell you what I honestly thought of this book, without rambling:
Apart from this book being hilarious and Greg constantly putting himself down, he does grow towards the end. This wasn't a flat out change, it was a subtle growth. The switch from Greg-Cracking-Jokes-Every-3-Seconds to Greg-Cracks-Jokes-Ocassionally was steady. Andrews manages to tone it down so gradually that by the time you realise what had happened, the book ended. I loved Greg's narration and how it ended. I loved that this was a "different" type of cancer story, yet still managed to have heart. This wasn't just a book that takes the piss out of everything and whilst it's still hilarious, it's realistic. I loved the fact that Andrews allowed his characters to be indifferent about things (even cancer). This book explores the idea that, despite what other people say, you CAN move on from a tragedy and you're allowed to feel a little indifferent about things.
This is a brilliant, HILARIOUS novel that, despite the synopsis, allows you to watch Greg grow and begin to understand who he is.