Friday, October 26, 2012

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: March, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-Humor/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
     Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.
     Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia— cue extreme adolescent awkwardness— but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
     And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.
What I Think: This is definitely not a book to recommend to a sensitive person. It is exactly what it promotes itself as- a funny book about a thing that is not funny at all. Man, it is funny. It is also a provocative, curse-laden, stereotypical teenage boy book. In a generation that adores Family Guy, Adult Swim and Tosh.O and continues watching The Simpsons and South Park, crude humor is main stream and Jesse Andrew's book will definitely attract teen readers. 
     In addition to the humor, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was fun to read- I couldn't put it down once I started. Greg's voice is evident throughout. You can almost hear him in your head as you read. Earl's voice was also distinct specifically when Andrews decided to write in Earl's teenage boy dialect so opposite to Greg's voice. Also, I really liked how it included aspects of the book as a script. My favorite character through the whole book, though, was Greg's father. He was definitely minor, but definitely was a unique character!
     A couple of things kept me from giving this book 5 stars though. 1) Earl, Greg's "best friend" is a stereotypical black teenager which wouldn't have bothered me so much if there had been a less stereotypical character of color to balance him and his family out, but unfortunately there wasn't. 2) And I am sure Jesse Andrews is so sick of hearing this (and I apologize that I have to say it...), it is just not The Fault in our Stars. TFioS had the humor and the cancer, but it also had heart. I know that Greg had heart, it was just hidden inside a 17 year old male's body, but I just wish we had seen more of it than we did. There was a glimpse at the end, but throughout most of the book he was just so emotionless. Now, I was never a teenage boy, obviously, so this may be realistic to how some teenage boys would deal with the situation that Greg was in, but I just wanted him to break.
     Now, do not let my two nit-picky things make it so you don't pick up this book. You should. You will laugh (probably) and you will cry (probably). And with that being said, Jesse Andrews shows us that it isn't just John Green who can write a funny book about cancer. 
Read Together: Grades 10 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
Snatch of Text: "I probably don't need to tell you that nothing is funnier at Benson, or any other high school, than when a human being falls down. I don't mean witty, or legitimately funny; I'm just saying people in high school think falling down is the funniest thing that a person can possibly do. I'm not sure why this is true, but it is. People completely lose control when they see this happen. Sometimes they themselves fall down, and then the entire world collapses on itself." (p. 138-139)

"A person's life is like a big weird ecosystem, and if there's one thing science teachers enjoy blathering about, it's that changes in one part of an ecosystem affect the entire thing. So let's say my life is a pond. OK. Now let's say some insane person (Mom) shows up with this nonnative species of depressed fish (Rachel) and puts the fish in the pond. OK. The other organisms in the pond (films, homework) are used to having a certain amount of algae (time that I get to spend on those things) to eat. But now this cancer-stricken fish is eating all that algae. So the pond is sort of jacked up as a result." (p. 199)
Mentor Text for: Scripting, Humor, Voice, Dialect, Dialogue, Metaphor
Writing Prompts: Greg likes to share aspects of his story like a movie script. Take a scene out of the book you are reading and transform it into a script. 
Topics Covered: Movie making, Cinema history, Leukemia, Cliques, High school, Friendship, Future
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