Book Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlMe and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was shocked I enjoyed this as much as I did, especially since I’m not a nihilist and I think meaning can be found everywhere in our lives if we only choose to look for it. Overall, I would give it a strong 3.5.

This book was brutally honest about a difficult subject {cancer} that many writers have used as a means to tell a good story and get the tears rolling. Jesse Andrews, however, did not even get close to making my eyes water and somehow managed to force a different perspective of life into my worldview.

When people, especially young people, pass away, we like to think they were loved and will be dearly missed by the world. This thought helps ease our depression and boost our confidence when we’re battling the giants life throws our way. Yes, we’d like to think we have made a profound impact on the world and people around us and haven’t gone unnoticed by everyone, but with all the uploads, downloads, selfies, advertising, and noise encircling everyone’s brains, there isn’t much room for everyone to care about everyone else. Most young people seem to only have enough energy and time to care about themselves and a select few other people, especially those in high school. Because of all that noise, there are invisible people, who often enjoy being reclusive and going unnoticed, walking among the attention-seekers of high school hallways.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl explores the idea that an invisible person can’t really be missed all that much. A true but unpopular opinion. Not all true ideas are popular ideas. People tend to avoid overly sad stories about people who didn’t make anything out of their lives, but I think it’s important for people to obtain all perspectives in life. Not all lives are full of meaning. Some people don’t try to make the most of life and don’t positively affect the people around them. Sad, but true.

Greg reminds me of most humans. We try to seem like we’re “good” people, and even if we are “good” by society’s standards, we still are selfish almost 100% of the time. We have to be in order to survive. Another unpopular truth. It’s not something most people would even admit to themselves, much less to the entire world via a young adult novel. I’ve encountered this way too many times to count. I try to put off the vibe that I’m sweet and care about the world, and I really do care about most aspects of it, but most of the time I’m only looking out for myself. I only care about the world when I feel like caring about it. In my heart I have bad thoughts about lazy people and obnoxious people and fill-in-the-blank people. I like to think we all have a person or group of people we can’t really stand, but in truth, there are only about 0.5% of people who unselfishly care about the world. That may be a high estimation, too; I’m just guessing here.

I enjoyed Me and Earl and the Dying Girl because it was witty, quick, and truthful, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for any of my students or other young adults. Although I didn’t respect Andrews’s writing much, he at least spoke some truth and made me laugh. It was enjoyable enough with all its hilarity, but I really just liked it because it was a genuine account of teenage life. Andrews produces the idea that not all teenagers think too deeply about their lives, even those faced with cancer. I would think someone facing the possibility of death at a young age would, but who really knows? I respect a good story that is hopeful and creates meaning for those who have been affected by cancer (like The Fault in Our Stars), but I can also respect a novel that is the opposite of that.

Goodreads Rating: 3.6
Recommended for: Nihilists, People who like to compare books to movies

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