Me and you and a book review

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is a hilarious book that stands apart from traditional YA

“Thank [goodness] that this book is over.” -an actual quote from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Our main character, Greg Gaines, is constantly criticizing his own book. And everything else. Which is often quite funny.

Greg is a senior who prides himself in his ability to be friends with everyone and no one at the same time. This is a great way to avoid persecution, especially as a chubby kid with a constantly runny nose. Greg does have one “friend”: Earl. The title probably tipped you off. Earl is extremely aggressive and a typical underachiever with a messed up home life. Greg and Earl share a passion for films and making films, usually ending up with low-quality homemade movies. Greg’s rumored girlfriend is “the Dying Girl”: Rachel. He was once chummy with Rachel until ghosting her for years, but when she got leukemia, his mom forced him to renew their friendship largely out of pity.

Then Rachel and Greg fall in love, she makes a miraculous recovery, and they live happily ever after. The end.

Just kidding! That’s definitely not what happens. In fact, Greg emphasizes how apathetic he is to Rachel and her coming death. But their “friendship” still upends Greg’s entire reality. The question is whether these changes are for better or for worse.

Andrews is very creative with her writing style. Sometimes the book is like any normal narrative, and then sometimes it’s written like a movie script or a list. I did enjoy this, a fact that is likely a testament to my short attention span. So if you, too, are a young person whose attention span has been pillaged by the addiction we call modern technology (Don’t deny it.), you’ll like this book.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl slightly disgusted me. Whenever a YA author writes a realistic fiction book from a teenage boy’s perspective, I usually end up slightly disgusted. Are they actually being realistic? Are teenage boys’ thoughts actually this impure? I sure hope not. Here, I wrote this letter:


Dear Disgusting Teenage Boys Who Think Disgusting Thoughts,

You’re disgusting. Please stop being disgusting.


A Slightly Disgusted Person


Additionally, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is rife with swear words. I know that most high schoolers have absolutely no problem with this, but I do. To me, swearing is a barbaric way to express yourself that somehow makes young people feel mature. Swear words are meant to make people feel horrible, so you shouldn’t use them because (1) making people feel horrible isn’t nice, and (2) if you really want to make someone feel horrible, you can aptly do so with normal words. For example, “Your life is meaningless, and no one will bother to remember your existence” is much more effective than “#$!& you”. This book made me wince internally every sentence or two because of all the swear words. But, if your language is as vulgar as Greg’s, enjoy.

Despite these faults, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is consistently hilarious and relatable while surprisingly touching. One thing I really related to was what set it apart from other YA books like The Fault in Our Stars. I really loved The Fault in Our Stars, but I’m pretty sure most cancer victims don´t fall tragically in love and go to Amsterdam and all that. Most of them are probably like Rachel. She’s a good person trying her best to live and be happy, but her experiences and life aren’t especially remarkable. We’re all like that. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a story of the unremarkable.