Despite it’s heavy theme of a girl with cancer, Me, Earl and The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is a very heartfelt, humorous and enjoyable debut.
Told through Greg Gaines, a hapless teenager with very little dating success who tries to not stand out or belong to a single clique in high school, it tells the story of when Rachel, a childhood kind-of friend, is diagnosed with cancer and how Greg becomes friends with her again.
I really liked that this was not a particularly sentimental or melodramatic book. Recently there has been a vein of movies and books like this, which not only highlight the obvious devastating side of cancer, but also have a natural human quality and slight humour to them: the film 50/50 instantly comes to mind here as a natural companion to this book. From the novel’s first chapter, Andrews asserts Greg hasn’t learnt anything from Rachel’s leukemia and that this isn’t the book that will make you cry for the duration of reading.
Gaines was a great narrator: very funny, very real and someone you couldn’t help rooting for. I loved the way Andrews played with script extracts within the novel within dialogue as it made the book feel unique.
The only character I didn’t really feel as connected to was Earl. While I found him humorous and was interested in his home life, I didn’t feel quite so engaged by him as the other characters in the book.
All in all, this was an incredibly heartfelt, funny and realistic YA novel that I am very thankful I got to read for review. I am definitely excited to see Andrews’ future writing.
I highly recommend this novel due to its unique take on cancer and it’s refusal to become a saccarine, deliberate “tear-inducer” of a novel.
I received this book for free via ABRAMS publishers through NetGalley. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is released tomorrow so don’t forget to check it out!