Tag Archives: John Green

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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Reading Recs for 2014-2015 School Year: 2nd 9 Weeks

Hey, everyone. Here’s another recap of some of my favorite books I read during this past school year. If you didn’t read the last post, I proudly stated that I’d read more than 16,000 pages from August to May, but I did have a student who read more than 33,000 pages! I’ll go ahead a jump into it, and I’ll try to keep each mini-review as brief as possible.

The Road

Admittedly, I struggled to get through this one. There were no chapters, and most of the writing was fragmented, which drove me crazy for the majority of the novel. McCarthy gave his characters no names and hardly any hope as they wandered down his endless and dreary road. You can only describe dreariness in so many ways before it begins to sound the same. This “boring” quality in McCarthy’s writing is what made me believe he’s actually a genius. The tone he carried within his writing mimicked the long, dusty road he created for his father-son team to live through. After finishing the book, I immediately gave it two stars and asked myself what it was that everyone saw in this boring black book. As the months drove on, though, I began to think more and more about the story he told. I eventually changed my rating from two stars to three. That still suggests I didn’t care for it, however, I know I still do care about this piece of writing because I find myself revisiting it all the time. I’m considering placing it on my favorites shelf now. The reading itself was a pain, but the experience I gained from reading it has left me in awe. It takes a lot of skill to create an experience that hangs on a person so long after the reading has completed. Congrats, McCarthy. Post-apocalypse lovers, please consider reading this award-winning experience of a novel.

Wrinkle

I actually read this book twice last year because I taught it to my 7th graders. It is a science fiction classic that I look forward to teaching for years to come. I have not read the series, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually. This charming novel defies time and space without defying logic. In fact, logic is the hero of the novel, proudly defeating evil and helping a few kids find their places outside of their own world. L’Engle’s debut novel is smart, witty, and endearing. In many ways it reminded me of The Neverending Storyand other similar movies. At first, it was hard to understand because so much happens so early in the novel, and some of the characters are difficult to distinguish between, but it most definitely worth your time, especially if you want to visit other dimensions.

Paper Towns

John Green is an author who needs no introduction. This is his second book to make it to film status, and if you enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, you will enjoy this one, too. It is my second favorite of his works, with a little flair and a little mystery. This book easily earned 5/5 stars from me, and I will proudly admit that I judged it by its cover before buying it. I thought it was insanely clever and eye-catching. I read The Fault in Our Stars in about 24 hours, so I knew I would be in for another treat. Quentin Jacobson’s neighbor is the beautifully distant Margo Roth Spiegelman, who was his childhood friend and has turned into his longtime crush. They no longer travel the same social circles, but one night she climbs back into his life out of the blue, beckoning him to join in on her vengeful escapades through town. After that, she mysteriously disappears from his life once again, leaving him feeling obligated to track her back down. The clues she leaves him helps him find himself and creates a distant closeness between the two teens that is encapsulating. If you still haven’t read it, please do so before the movie drops.

Eleventh

Jeff Hirsch joined in on the post-apocalyptic hype train, writing about a world wrecked by war and plague. We join Stephen Quinn and his dad on their journey after they’ve buried Stephen’s grandpa, who was able to grab their new lifestyle by the horns and create one they could survive in. They are traveling salvagers who find material that can be used to trade for other goods at trade stops. Shortly after we arrive, Stephen and his dad find themselves in a crashed aircraft searching for food. A band of other travelers comes along, causing Stephen and his dad to hide in the back of the plane. These travelers pick up slaves and have two in their company as they scavenge the plane’s remains. Stephen and his dad try to do the right thing for the captured couple when their plan hits the fan. The couple gets away, but Stephen’s dad ends up in a coma, leaving 15-year-old Stephen to find a way for the two of them to survive. Things seem to be going downhill fast until a few members of another camp come across Stephen and his dad. There is a small scuffle, but the company decides to take them back to Settler’s Landing. Settler’s Landing is tucked back into the woods and seems too good to be true. This small town has picked itself up after the plague and formed a working community. They have a school, crops, and plenty of ammunition to protect themselves. Stephen makes friends with the family who has graciously taken them in, and is tries to distract himself from his dad’s worsening condition when he meets Jenny. She was adopted by the family taking care of the Quinns and doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of Settler’s Landing. Her rebellious nature is evident immediately, and soon she and Stephen play a prank on the town, causing it to go to war with another nearby settlement. The perfect town begins to crumble around them, changing the lives of the community forever. This book only has a 3.46 on Goodreads, but I almost gave it five stars. I never found it predictable or boring, but rather realistic and adventurous.

Hopefully that wasn’t too wordy and you are able to find something you like. Please pass it on or recommend me a book based on what I have liked so far!

Reading Recs for 2014-2015 School Year: 1st 9 Weeks

This school year I read a total of 16,274 pages! I plan on covering a lot more ground over the summer, but I wanted to showcase some of my favorite books of this year and explain why I loved them. Some of these have already been blogged about, so I’ll try to keep it brief! Here is a brief recap of August-October.

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This endearing novel about a recovering high school track athlete touched me for many reasons. Running is so much a part of my life that I can’t imagine being who I am now without it. My high school and college track teams both had a hand in shaping the woman I am today. The Running Dream‘s protagonist had heart, determination, and showed perseverance as well as displaying the bond that comes from team sports. Please read the rest of my review and pick this book up! It’s a fast and encouraging read. I gave it 5/5 stars.

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Son was finally published this year and wrapped up Lowry’s dystopian series The Giver, which so many of us readers have loved since a young age. Before this year I didn’t even know the series was a quartet (4 books). I thoroughly enjoyed Gathering Blue and Messenger, so I was excited to finish the series. About halfway through Son I began to slow down in my reading of it. I guess you could say I trudged through the remainder of the book. The preceding books in the series were much better, but I knew I had to finish it. Son will remain to be the weak link in the series, but I think all four books are worth reading. I won’t go into much detail about Son’s characters just in case there are people who haven’t read the other books, but if you liked The Giver and want to continue reading about its characters, please finish the series!

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The Art of Racing in the Rain is told from Enzo, a labrador retriever’s, point of view. I found myself growing more and more attached to Enzo and his humans as the novel progressed, and because of this, I cried some heavy tears toward the end. Enzo is so wise and attached to his humans, and kindly offers us a perspective we have never seen. He shows how selfless and devoted our pets are throughout their short lives. They can’t tell us in words how much they love us, but Stein does an excellent job of getting that message across through Enzo. 5/5 stars without a doubt!

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With John Green’s rising popularity over the last couple years, young adult readers can’t ignore him anymore. I’ve only read three of his books so far: The Fault in Our Stars, Paper Towns, and Looking for Alaska. Out of the three, Looking for Alaska was probably my least favorite. Although she was not the protagonist, Alaska Young remained too much of a mystery for me to enjoy the entirety of the book. I gave it 4/5 stars for this reason. I also felt like Green’s protagonists in Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska were much too similar. The plot of the story was also too similar for me. Green’s writing style is like a breath of fresh air for the young adult genre, but I don’t want to read the same story over and over again. Despite all that, this was still on of my favorite books of the month.

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Although I only gave We Were Liars 4/5 stars, it holds a special place in my heart. I’m not going to say too much about this book since it contains so much mystery. What I will say is that amnesia is tough to write about, especially when it’s from a first-person perspective. I was hooked on this book from the beginning. I can’t remember now why it did not receive five stars from me, but it was definitely one of my favorite books from this school year. It has even inspired me (in a small way) for a novel I’m currently working on. Hopefully there will be more of that to come! If you like a little mystery, please read We Were Liars.

So, there’s my recap of the first part of this school year! Hopefully these recommendations help you out in some way!