Estelle and I are super excited to be participating in the Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. I’m bringing you the first debut young adult book this week, though Estelle and I will alternate months participating. The challenge is to read and review a minimum of twelve young adult debut novels between January 2012 and January 2013.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
Future Release Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Harry Abrams
Target Audience: Young Adult
Format: e-book downloaded from NetGalley
How we found out about it: Carla at The Crooked Shelf tweeted about it!
Challenge: 2012 Debut Author Challenge
Summary: Greg is the narrator of this book – he’s reflecting back on the last year-ish of his life. He rambles and tells the story of how his mother forced him to re-friend a girl (Rachel) he used to semi-date when he was in Hebrew school… because Rachel is dying of cancer.
Okay, so let me be the first to say that the summary of the book sounds depressing and sad, but it’s anything but. Just take a look at that cover and tell me if you think sadness would seep from its glorious pages. Just like the cover, this book is colorful and animated. It’s full of stories (each chapter has a different focus and point) that somewhat don’t make sense together or flow extremely well from chapter to chapter. When you accept and understand that Greg is writing this in a stream-of-consciousness state of mind and that his personality is scattered and crazy, the book is tons of fun and laugh out loud funny.
Greg wants to be the kid at school that’s friendly to everyone, but not a member of any particular group. He’s obnoxious and observant, and Earl is Greg’s best friend. Probably his only friend. Who don’t even really hang out at school together. In their spare time, they create re-makes of their favorite movies. These creations haven’t seen the light of day by anyone other than these two. The conversations between Earl and Greg are mind-numbing, although funny, and extremely inappropriate at times.
One of the most awesome things about MaEatDG was how the story was told. Some parts of it are written just like any typical book – with dialogue and description. However, the best parts of this book were either written in movie script format or as a series of bullet points. I loved when Greg would pull the script card and re-tell a story with actor’s notes and lines. Through these typographical changes, I learned a lot of Greg’s back story – his embarrassing history with girls, his relationship (that was more like a business partnership) with Earl, and conversations he had with Rachel.
Greg’s mother forces him to try to re-friend Rachel so she has someone to make her laugh while she’s dealing with her leukemia. He doesn’t want to, but tries anyway. When he meets with Rachel, there’s mostly a lot of talking on Greg’s part where he says some of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. He constantly makes fun of himself, throws himself under the bus, and is always overly modest to the point that it’s annoying. He talks and talks because he doesn’t know how to listen. All he wants to do is to make Rachel laugh, and he’s uncomfortable with silence.
Through Greg, Earl is introduced to Rachel. Of course Earl offers to let her view some of the films they’ve created. This makes her INSANELY happy, and Greg becomes unspeakably mad at Earl for sharing their “secret” with someone. As Rachel hits a low point with her cancer, Earl and Greg go on a mission to create a film specifically for Rachel.
Thus, the world’s worst film (EVER) is created.
You might be wondering what the point of the whole book was. I admit, while I enjoyed the craziness, I was hoping for answers, too. (And you should know, they do come.) The scenes are just crazy and SO different from my typical reads. I tend to want a sweet, romantic love story, but I’m learning that these coming-of-age male books are quite fulfilling. You won’t get a love story or learn Big Life Lessons from this book, but you will enjoy it. One of my favorite scenes with Earl and Greg reminded me of the movie Half Nelson with Ryan Gosling…and frankly, if something can elicit images of Ryan, then…
YUM YAY! (For your viewing pleasure, I’ve included the poster for Half Nelson, taken from IMDB.)
This book is (to stay true to Greg – I feel I should make a list):
You’ll enjoy it and breeze through the pages quickly. You’ll laugh out loud and maybe sometimes cringe. I guarantee you Jesse Andrews does not have to fear that he wrote the worst book ever.