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 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. [Goodreads]
Some people talk about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl like it’s just another The Fault in Our Stars wannabe, but it’s more than that (at least to me, it is). Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE John Green, and TFIOS will always hold a special place in my heart. However, this book was better (in my eyes) in some ways. For one, Greg (protagonist/narrator) was easier to relate to than Hazel, even if he is a guy. Greg is funny, honest, unapologetic. He’s a little pathetic at times, but he’s realistic, and he’s a new addition to the ya pool. His best friend, Earl, is every parent’s nightmare, but he seems to be the most philosophical one throughout the entirety of the story. And then there’s Rachel. Rachel, who has cancer. She’s not playing the sick card whatsoever, and she refuses to let Greg run away from his problems. She is the real hero of this story.
Okay, let’s talk about the plot. The main focus is obviously Rachel and Greg’s friendship, which grows as Rachel herself deteriorates. There are minor sub-plots, like Greg and Earl’s misadventures and Greg’s unknown future after high school. It’s also pretty much just friendship and good things and things going to sh*t sometimes. It’s life. Some chapters had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe, and some I seriously got the pages wet with tears. The whole cancer storyline was done amazingly, because it was true. You aren’t positive the whole time. Chemo sucks. You lose hope. You don’t want to be around people. Rachel was a real character because she wasn’t a peppy person when it came to the fact that she was DYING. She was real because she was annoyed by people who talked to her out of guilt, and she was pissed at cancer (rightfully so). This book tells a mainstream yet unique story of high school, complete with overbearing parents, slight (perhaps accidental) drug use, boys crushing on girls in kind of strange ways, maybe almost failing classes at one point or another, and most of all, friendship. I’m not even halfway through high school and I’ll tell you right now that there is no way I would’ve gotten this far without my friends. The ending of the book leaves some questions left to be answered, but this is one of those stories where you don’t need every end tied up neatly. It leaves you wondering, hoping, and I liked that.
Overall, I really loved this book. I bought it on a road trip with my family, and read it in the car. It was a perfect summer read, and I would totally recommend this book to anyone (well, maybe everyone in my age group and older).
Rating: 4.75 stars
Favorite quote: “The most beautiful thing about you is that you’re not a sock puppet.”