Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl is a brand-new spin on the sick-lit genre. Told from the perspective of a healthy peer, written in an array of unique forms, and avoiding many of the themes commonly associated tackling this subject matter, this book stands apart from anything you’ve ever read before.
Andrews paints a clear picture of high school life, covering everything from clique divisions to social expectations. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl is written as if by main character Greg, which means that it takes on a number of unique and unusual literary forms. It moves from dot points, to diary entries, to screenplay scenes, and more. Greg’s self-awareness—he knows he is writing a book, and he doesn’t think it’s a very good one—makes for a very interesting storytelling approach.
Greg is a typical high schooler who does all he can to stay remote from the particularities of high school, like making friends. His only real friend, Earl, is unpredictable and reckless, and it’s unclear exactly why he and Greg seem to get along. Rachel is a girl Greg once accidentally dated (while trying to make someone else jealous). When she is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s mum insists that he visit her, providing her with the support she needs to face her cancer battle.
Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl uses cancer as a subject, but it doesn’t seem to function as a theme. Instead, I think that this book focuses on themes of selfishness and selflessness. I’d recommend Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl to readers of Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy. It isn’t for everyone, but its perfect audience is out there—the book’s even been adapted for film!
Jesse Andrews is also the author of The Haters and Mumun. He’s also a screenwriter, writing the screen adaptations of Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl and David Levithan’s Every Day. You can stay up to date with Jesse on his website, Twitter, and Instagram.
Have you read Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl yet? What are your favourite book-to-screen adaptations?
Title: Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Abrams Books
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 to 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.
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