Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

( 22 )

Overview


  Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.
Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against ...
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Overview


  Up until senior year, Greg has maintained total social invisibility. He only has one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time—when not playing video games and avoiding Earl’s terrifying brothers— making movies, their own versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics. Greg would be the first one to tell you his movies are f*@$ing terrible, but he and Earl don’t make them for other people. Until Rachel.
Rachel has leukemia, and Greg’s mom gets the genius idea that Greg should befriend her. Against his better judgment and despite his extreme awkwardness, he does. When Rachel decides to stop treatment, Greg and Earl must abandon invisibility and make a stand. It’s a hilarious, outrageous, and truthful look at death and high school by a prodigiously talented debut author.

Praise for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

STARRED REVIEW
“One need only look at the chapter titles (“Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way”) to know that this is one funny book.”
–Booklist, starred review

STARRED REVIEW
“A frequently hysterical confessional...Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being. Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart.”
–Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“It is sure to be popular with many boys, including reluctant readers, and will not require much selling on the part of the librarian.”
–VOYA

"Mr. Andrews' often hilarious teen dialogue is utterly convincing, and his characters are compelling. Greg's random sense of humor, terrible self-esteem and general lack of self-awareness all ring true. Like many YA authors, Mr. Andrews blends humor and pathos with true skill, but he steers clear of tricky resolutions and overt life lessons, favoring incremental understanding and growth."
–Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Awards:
Capitol Choices 2013 - Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens
Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) Choices 2013 list - Young Adult Fiction
YALSA 2013 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults
YALSA 2014 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults

 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his debut novel, Andrews tackles some heavy subjects with irreverence and insouciance. Senior Greg Gaines has drifted through high school trying to be friendly with everyone but friends with no one, moving between cliques without committing. His only hobby is making awful movies with his foul-mouthed pal Earl. Greg’s carefully maintained routine is upset when his mother encourages him to spend time with Rachel, a classmate suffering from leukemia. Greg begrudgingly rekindles his friendship with Rachel, before being conned into making a movie about her. Narrated by Greg, who brings self-deprecation to new heights (or maybe depths), this tale tries a little too hard to be both funny and tragic, mixing crude humor and painful self-awareness. Readers may be either entertained or exhausted by the grab bag of narrative devices Andrews employs (screenplay-style passages, bulleted lists, movie reviews, fake newspaper headlines, outlines). In trying to defy the usual tearjerker tropes, Andrews ends up with an oddly unaffecting story. Ages 14–up. Agent: Matt Hudson, William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Maggie L. Schrock
High-school senior, Greg Gaines, is a social chameleon. He's made it his goal since grade school to not belong to any one social group, instead being able to be friendly with all groups. Greg does have one friend, Earl, the only person he spends time with outside of school. Since middle school, Greg and Earl have spent their time making amateur movies; movies kept secret from everyone. During his senior year, however, Greg's master plan of anti-friendship is ruined. After being forced by his mother to befriend Rachel, a classmate with leukemia, Greg suddenly finds himself in unfamiliar territory. As people at school find out about their relationship and his movie-making abilities, Greg struggles to keep his act together. While Rachel's health gets worse, Greg is enlisted to make a movie for her by her friends. Greg and Earl try every idea possible, but in the end make a horrible film. Rachel truly begins fighting for her life, and Greg finds himself unsure of his future and his feelings about the events of his senior year. Written from the point of view of one hysterical teenager, Andrews keeps the reader interested with film-like script writing. Also, Greg actually "speaks" to the reader, which is a refreshing switch from other fiction novels. Keeping true to teenage dialect though, obscene language is prevalent in this hilarious book. Reviewer: Maggie L. Schrock
VOYA - Etienne Vallee
Greg Gaines has always been invisible at school and in life. That is the way he has engineered his entire existence: he is not a part of anything, but no one bullies him either, despite his being short and squat. His closest acquaintance is Earl, who is shorter and angrier. Together, they have discovered classic movies, and they now make their own in secret. Rachel, a girl Greg dated in middle school, is now dying of leukemia and his mother makes him spend time with her. When Greg volunteers to show her his movies, it forces him to become visible at school, and his peers begin to notice him. This book is hilariously written by Greg himself, with Greg stating right at the beginning that there will be no lesson learned at the end, no happy ending, nothing but his foibles during his senior year. Laced with profanities, anatomical descriptions, sexual and drug references, this book nonetheless conveys great truths about life as an unpopular high schooler. Greg's stream of consciousness and the movie scripts he writes in his head about his current situations are the same fascinating, self-absorbed monologues many teens have. It is sure to be popular with many boys, including reluctant readers, and will not require much selling on the part of the librarian. The language, however, makes this a read for older teens. Reviewer: Etienne Vallee
VOYA - Jon Hutchins
While reading this book, I almost passed out from lack of oxygen, due to laughing so hard. The book, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is about a self-hating seventeen-year-old who is forced by his mother to befriend a classmate who has leukemia. This book is full of crude humor, film references, and enough self-loathing to fill a swimming pool. This is highly recommended reading material—especially if you are a high school teacher. It is a fascinating look into the mind of a teen. Reviewer: Jon Hutchins, Teen Reviewer
ALAN Review - Claire Holman
Greg Gaines is many things: a "surprise Jew," a self-made filmmaker, and an honest friend who just wants to survive high school, but a novel writer he is not (or so he says). As he tries to avoid the awkwardness of high school and get by with being everyone's (and therefore, no one's) friend, he gets a little more attention than he wants when he starts to hang out with a girl who has cancer. It will take the honesty of his true friends, like Earl, and more discomfort than he could imagine to get him to appreciate what he has to offer. Throughout the book, it's as if you're being tickled for a little too long: you laugh so hard you want to cry, even though it hurts a little. Andrews could not have done a better job making a charming, witty, self-deprecating commentary on the high-school human condition. Reviewer: Claire Holman
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This debut novel is told from the point of view of intensely self-critical Greg S. Gaines, an aspiring filmmaker. A self-described pasty-faced failure with girls, the 17-year-old spends most of his time with his friend Earl, a foul-mouthed kid from the wrong side of town, watching classic movies and attempting to create their own cinematic masterpieces. When Greg's mother learns that Rachel, one of his classmates, has been diagnosed with leukemia, she encourages him to rekindle the friendship that started and ended in Hebrew school. While Greg promises that his story will contain "zero Important Life Lessons," his involvement with Rachel as her condition worsens nonetheless has an impact. In a moment of profundity, however, Greg also argues, "things are in no way more meaningful because I got to know Rachel before she died. If anything, things are less meaningful." Andrews makes use of a variety of narrative techniques to relate the story: scenes are presented in screenplay format and facts are related as numbered and elaborated-upon lists that are tied together by a first-person narrative divided into chapters indicated with self-deprecating titles (e.g., "I put the 'Ass' in 'Casanova'"). While the literary conceit—that the protagonist could be placed in a traditionally meaningful situation and not grow—is irreverent and introduced with a lot of smart-alecky humor, the length of the novel (overly long) and overuse of technique end up detracting from rather than adding to the story.—Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews
A frequently hysterical confessional from a teen narrator who won't be able to convince readers he's as unlikable as he wants them to believe. "I have no idea how to write this stupid book," narrator Greg begins. Without answering the obvious question--just why is he writing" this stupid book"?--Greg lets readers in on plenty else. His filmmaking ambitions. His unlikely friendship with the unfortunately short, chain-smoking, foulmouthed, African-American Earl of the title. And his unlikelier friendship with Rachel, the titular "dying girl." Punctuating his aggressively self-hating account with film scripts and digressions, he chronicles his senior year, in which his mother guilt-trips him into hanging out with Rachel, who has acute myelogenous leukemia. Almost professionally socially awkward, Greg navigates his unwanted relationship with Rachel by showing her the films he's made with Earl, an oeuvre begun in fifth grade with their remake of Aguirre, Wrath of God. Greg's uber-snarky narration is self-conscious in the extreme, resulting in lines like, "This entire paragraph is a moron." Debut novelist Andrews succeeds brilliantly in painting a portrait of a kid whose responses to emotional duress are entirely believable and sympathetic, however fiercely he professes his essential crappiness as a human being. Though this novel begs inevitable thematic comparisons to John Green's The Fault in Our Stars (2011), it stands on its own in inventiveness, humor and heart. (Fiction. 14 & up)
The Barnes & Noble Review

High school, according to popular cliché and the sworn experience of many bona fide ex- and current teens, is a place Balkanized by cliques: the Sharks vs. the Jets; the greasers vs. the Socs; preps vs. punks. But whether it reflects some new, enlightened adolescent reality or wishful authorial imagining, the high schools in many recent young adult novels look less like a John Hughes movie and more like some fresh, modern mash- up of oddballs and eccentrics.

"On television, it's usually the rich kids who assert control at a high school," acknowledges Greg Gaines, the "me" in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews's debut novel for young adults. "However, most of Squirrel Hill's genuinely rich kids go to the local private school, Shadyside Academy. The ones that remain are too few to impose any kind of order." As a result, there is a "vacuum" at the top of the social hierarchy in Greg's Pittsburgh public high school.

The titular trio of the novel form an especially unlikely group. Greg is the son of proud eccentrics: his father is a classics professor at Carnegie Mellon who wears a muumuu around the house, collects odd foods, and talks to his cat, Cat Stevens, as if he were a person. Greg's ex-hippie mother, meanwhile, runs a Jewish nonprofit but gave her children "sneaky Anglo- Saxon names" so they could be "surprise Jews."

Greg's best friend, Earl, "lives unsupervised with two brothers, three half brothers, and a dog" in a large house where they "play video games and eat Dominos pretty much all the time"; the adult men are long gone; Earl's mother is usually busy with something that "involves Bacardi Silver mojitos and chat rooms"; and his thirteen-year-old brother has a "TRU NIGGA" neck tattoo and has already managed to impregnate someone. Greg and Earl have been best friends since age ten, when they discovered Greg's father's stash of art films, and share a passion for Werner Herzog.

Rachel Kushner is a member in good standing of the "Upper-Middle-Class Senior Jewish Girl Sub-Clique 2a." She is also dying of leukemia. When Greg's mother hears about Rachel's illness, she insists that he resume their previous friendship. "[You] don't have a choice," she tells him, "It's a mitzvah." " 'Mitzvah,' " says Greg, "is Hebrew for 'colossal pain in the ass.' "

Unfortunately, Greg's friendship with Rachel had "no honest foundation and ended on screamingly awkward terms." Although Greg describes himself as "pale, overweight," and "sort of like a pudding" with "kind of a rat face," Rachel once had a crush on him. He was the only one who could make her laugh.

Humor, in fact, one of the two major things that Greg and Earl have in common. Their friendship consists of a series of routines they regularly perform for outsiders and each other, such as the following set piece in which Greg "narrates Earl's behavior" as if "he had an irritating personal assistant who actually wasn't useful in any way." This exchange begins when a teacher explains that Department of Education regulations forbid him from sharing his pho with Earl and tells Earl he has to get his own soup:

Earl: "I ain't got no eatin-out money."

Greg: "Earl has no money allocated for that purpose."

Earl: "Tryna get some soup up in here."

Greg: "Earl was hoping to have some of your soup."
Etcetera. In addition to their partnership in such moments of school hallway improv, their shared love of filmmaking has resulted in dozens of home- directed films, some of which feature sock puppets, almost all of which are unintentionally hilarious in their badness. The two have had a solemn pact to restrict the viewing of their films to an audience of two; however, once Rachel asks to see the movies, they have a hard time saying no. What are they going to do? Deny happiness to the dying girl?

"Cheering up Rachel was one of the things I had gotten really good at," says Greg. "And when you're really good at something, you want to do it all the time, because it makes you feel good. So if I wanted to hang out with Rachel, it was mainly for selfish reasons."

Andrews's novel is one of several young adult novels that uses humor to deflect the mawkish sentiment and clichéd notion that one learns "Important Life Lessons" or experiences "Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good" by simple virtue of becoming acquainted with death. The best of these, like John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, manage to wrangle love, death, the big questions of existence, and humor into one astonishing package. Andrews isn't trying for that particular bundle. His contribution — and it is an excellent one — is finding the ways in which a bright, funny, often self-loathing group of friends wrestle with big adult issues in fits and starts, without necessarily understanding it all in flashes of deep insight or sudden moral clarity.

Amy Benfer has worked as an editor and staff writer at Salon, Legal Affairs, and Paper magazine. Her reviews and features on books have appeared in Salon, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, The Believer, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Times Book Review.

Reviewer: Amy Benfer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419705328
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • Publication date: 5/7/2013
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 43,209
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Jesse Andrews is a writer, musician, and former German youth hostel receptionist. He is a graduate of Schenley High School and Harvard University and lives in Los Angeles, California. This is his first novel. Visit him at jesseandrews.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 22 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(9)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very Humorous! Laugh Out Loud Funny!

    Don't start this book with any expectations and you'll thoroughly enjoy it. The language is vulgar, but not too terribly distracting, since you're reading from first person perspective. I found myself laughing out loud when reading this book. I was reading quotes and passages to anyone who would listen. Although this book has a character that has Leukemia, this is not the main story line. It's more a story about a boy's journey in discovering himself during his senior year. I did tear up at the end, but I cry watching Hallmark commercials. I enjoyed Greg's character, and yes you wanted to smack him around a couple of times, but guess what...that's what helped build his character's story. Was it profound? No. Was is didactic? No. What is WAS...was wonderful! Could this book have been better? Sure...but I think I like the fact that it wasn't very heavy-handed. Take a chance and read this book. As a mom, I wouldn't let my young teen kids read this, but definitely I would let my older teens read it.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review from MajiBookshelf Blog

    I was really excited to start Me & Early & The Dying Girl, as I heard great reviews for it. The synopsis was very intriguing as well, and I honestly just love sad endings. As I started reading the book, it was apparent that the book was going to be a funny one. I liked Jesse's writing style, he made the characters sound so real. Greg, the main protagonist, was really funny at first. His points of view, and how he sees things was just very different than any other character I read about.
    After reading more, I got a bit annoyed. The amount of swear words in the book was uncountable. I really don't mind if it was once or twice, but it was up to five times in every single page. I mean, come on, use some decent words. His friend Earl was really annoying as well. His thoughts and the way he thought about things was just disgusting to me.
    Rachel was probably the only normal character in the book. She wasn't naggy or annoying either. She got Leukemia, and was fine with it. I honestly didn't cry in this book, even though I do know some people actually did. I just felt like the whole story was too laid back and random to be taken seriously. I guess some people would actually enjoy this book, but it just wasn't all that for me.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2013

    R

    Curses more than Ron Weasly but an awesome book!!!!!! XD

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Be very careful who you suggest this book to. It is filled with

    Be very careful who you suggest this book to. It is filled with the F word and potty talk and gross comments about female body parts - you name it. Definitely geared for the junior high crowd, but so crass I sure wouldn't put it in their hands. Yes, it was laugh out loud funny - but only if you like toilet humor. The characters were so real I thought I was listening to conversations in the hall of my high school. But very very crude language. Makes me sad for young adult literature.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2014

    For the most part this book was quite interesting and comical bu

    For the most part this book was quite interesting and comical but as I neared the end of the story I quickly realized the book's lack of substance. The story started off with a slow start and carried on with a weak plot line where nothing really happens.I finnished what I thought was going to be an ok book feeling unchanged after reading it. Jesse Andrews created some interesting and unique characters but failed to do much with them. Rachel (the dying girl ) was practically the reason for the story yet she barley had a personality or impact on the other characters. Had the potential to be a great story but failed to incorporate character growth and good material

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    A very quick read. I am usually not the type to read a book in o

    A very quick read. I am usually not the type to read a book in one sitting but I finished this one in a matter of hours. After finishing it, I felt nothing. No affinity to the characters or the book itself. I appreciate the honesty of the main character but that's about it. There was no moral to the story, no emotions I felt, and not a strong plot. 
     I'm not saying they had to fall in love and have an epic romance but the ending seemed unfinished and nothing was resolved.  Was not a huge fan. Slightly humorous at times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    I've recommended this book to all my friends who love John Green

    I've recommended this book to all my friends who love John Green (Which is alot!). An amazing book in the "cancer genre." 
    If you love TFIOS, then this is the book for you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    It seemed like most books I read this summer had someone dying.

    It seemed like most books I read this summer had someone dying. This is the funniest one. No a lot to not like about Jesse Andrews' writing. He knows when to keep it light, and when to take it serious. Great read.

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  • Posted May 8, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    a must read

    a must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013

    This is a GREAT book!

    Definetly read it! I would not recomend it for >13 because on 1 page the f word was said almost 20 times. I was reading this in class and laughing almost every page. Its a great book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I did like this book

    I did like this book

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  • Posted March 2, 2013

    One of the worst books I ever read. There wasn't really even a p

    One of the worst books I ever read. There wasn't really even a plot. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2013

    Wonderful and captivating!

    A beautiful adventure of love, acceptance, and how far you have to go to realize the true meaning of peace

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2012

    HILARIOUS!

    I loved it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 20, 2012

    I don't read a lot of comedy books. I mean, some of the novels

    I don't read a lot of comedy books. I mean, some of the novels that I've read have been funny, but comedy has not been their primary objective. I wasn't really quite sure of what to expect when I started. To my surprise Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was quite funny while still a bit sad at the same time.

    Reasons to Read:

    1.Comedy:
    I have to say that some of the comedy in this book is a tad innappropriate. When I read jokes like that, I was worried that the whole book would only be funny because of those kind of jokes. I found, though, that there were other kinds of humour. The main character, Greg, was particularly funny. His dialogue added to the whole thing and made the situations seem crazier and the people just hilarious. I did find myself laughing outloud at some of the jokes that were made as I was reading it. I think that there's different kinds of humour for everyone.

    2.Characters:

    The main characters in this book are really fleshed out. A couple pages are dedicated to most of the main characters when they first appear, and again, Greg's commentaries are really funny. Each characters has a reason for acting the way they do. We get to know their little quirks and flaws, and we know their past. You can definetly tell how the past affected each one to make them into the person they were. I was really impressed how a comedic book was able to make such fairly complex characters.

    This book was actually a lot better than I was anticipating. The dialogue was funny, the situations were funny, the whole book was funny! While I will admit that some parts of the book just seemed kind of unnecessary, it was pretty good overall. I definitely reccomend this to anyone who really likes comedy books, or is just looking for something a bit different.

    ARC received from Manda Group for review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2012

    Hysterical

    OK, well being a kid everything is funny to me. I just started the book and read the authors note and he spoke about stupid one line description and with the following paragraph started with Barf! (meaning that he hated that crap) I recommend this book to everybody. Timeto read something different than Fifty Shades of Grey!!!!! LOL

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    I thought this book was going to be a heart-warming tear-jerker.

    I thought this book was going to be a heart-warming tear-jerker. I was wrong. Let me start by saying, if you don't want to read a book full of cursing and crude sexual references, then this isn't the book for you.


    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a hilarious book about an awkward teenage boy named Greg and the things he deals with in his life, including disease and death. He is the boy at school who is friends with everyone - he has the whole "school hierarchy system" worked out. First day back to school of his senior year, his mum tells him that his ex-girlfriend Rachel, from Hebrew school, has got a rare form of leukemia - and he has to be friends with her. This starts an awkward friendship between the two.


    This book isn't really about death. It isn't overly about Greg dealing with death. It doesn't really have a plot line - which is a refreshing change. Although, Greg's wisecracks and self-deprecation did get slightly tiresome, the way it's written, with bullet points and film script conversations makes for a fantastic read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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