Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
By Jesse Andrews
Expected publication March 1, 2012 by Amulet Books
If you're expecting this to be some touching, weepy, meaningful book about how Greg's friendship with Rachel, the girl dying of leukemia, changed his life, you're reading the wrong book. This is more the story of how Greg's mom made him be friends with the dying girl, Greg and his friend Earl made some bad films, and nothing in Greg's life really changed all that much.
Another blogger put it well when they said "I'd hate to be a guy writing a book in 2012 about a girl with cancer if my name wasn't John Green." And that's kinda how I feel about it, too. There are quite a few similarities between Green's latest bestseller and Andrews' debut novel. Both feature girls dying of cancer, both feature sharp dialogue and snarky teenage characters and both are far outside the realm of typical "cancer novels." But there are differences as well. Green's narrator is the girl with cancer herself; Andrews chooses to tell the story from an outside perspective. At its heart, Green's novel is romantic; Andrews' is more about growing up and learning about yourself. Ultimately, it's unfair to try to compare the two - Green has a number of books under his belt already and a built-in audience, as well as a huge multimedia presence, while Andrews is brand-new to the young adult world. To judge it by itself, this book is a really great read. This was a book that made my coworkers ask, "what are you reading?!" as I laughed out loud at my desk during lunch breaks. And I'm not just saying that - this book is really funny. Greg, our narrator, is incredibly self-deprecating and, while this started to wear on my nerves after awhile, I'm glad this was consistent through the end of the novel. Often, an author will start out with something like this (where the narrator is constantly mocking his own narration) and then drop it later in the book. I'm happy that Andrews kept this up to the end. The chapters are short and interesting, so the novel moves at a nice pace. Overall, I really like the style of this book - it's an interesting story told in an interesting way. I'll be looking forward to what else Andrews writes in the future. As a side note, I absolutely love the cover!
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.