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.
How is a book about cancer so funny? Because this book is hilarious, and more often than not I caught myself laughing out loud. The humor is sometimes smart and witty, and other times just straight up silly. The juxtaposition between the tone of the book and the content was surprising, yet effective.
This is not just a book about cancer. It’s about friendship and self-discovery and facing your fears (which for Greg, is sharing his homemade films with others). It’s not about miracles or falling in love or there necessarily needing to be a happy ending. That made this read so refreshing. And the Greg / Earl friendship/partnership was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.
It sucks that this book came out the same year as The Fault in Our Stars, because in terms of subject matter, there is no doubt that there are similarities. And while I love John Green’s lyrical writing style (he certainly crafts some the greatest quotable moments), the teenagers he depicts always feel less like teenagers and more like pretentious adults. In this book, it felt like I was reading about real teenagers. I loved the honesty that the narrator Greg has in describing the situations that he’s in, that no, this is not meant to be “a touching romantic novel."
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl felt like I was reading an experience. He talks about his family a lot, particularly interactions with his mother, and how even thinking about the word college stresses him out, and these family / live moments were all particularly real and relatable. Sometimes in YA authors tend to forget that teenagers are highly influenced by their parents, so it was cool to see family as a constant presence. Especially since he only starts hanging out with Rachel because his mom tells him to.
I enjoyed the breaks in standard prose, the shifts to bullet points and scenes from a script. Just yeah, I really enjoyed this read.
It’s the first cancer book that didn’t make me cry.
Also, in case you were wondering, the movie is just as fantastic.