Larry Buhl's Reviews > Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
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's review
Jul 24, 2012

it was amazing

A funny book about a kid dying of cancer? You don't say?

Well, it IS funny, and I laughed out loud a few times (a rarity with me). The plot is pretty thin but this is not a problem: the story is deceptively simple. The narrator, 17-year-old Greg Gaines, tells us at the beginning it is not going to be a book about "the time everything changed forever" or any other cliches we may be used to. And he's right. He doesn't fall in love with Rachel, the girl dying of leukemia. He doesn't know her very well. It's kind of a chore for him to see her and cheer her up. It's profane, with a self-deprecating narrator who makes horrible films with his friend Earl (they know the films suck). Worse, they've been roped into making a film for Rachel. And the film is a whole other level of suckitude.

But the book is terrific, and turns the conventions of a "cancer book" or a "teen book" on their head. The narrator does learn a few things about himself. And there are tears. Maybe it's because I've always been drawn to gallows humor, but this book is a blast of brisk air after reading a string of over-praised, over-hyped, undercooked and dreary books. Worthy of five stars, but...

I'm wavering between four and five stars. It gets one half-star less for its stereotypical depiction of Earl, who's black and whose brothers are budding gangbangers and whose father is absent. I'm sure the author knew he was taking a big risk with that, and hats off for doing it. And, Earl's character is very well fleshed out. But still, eek on the stereotype.

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