By Naomi Wakabayashi
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is a book I never want to read again. It was adapted into a screenplay in January 2015. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is similar to the Fault in Our Stars except that it's from the perspective of a pessimist. Greg S. Gaines, the main character, likes to make weird foreign films with his friend Earl. He never thought his life would be any more than that. But one fateful afternoon, Greg's life changes after he befriends a girl who has just been diagnosed with leukemia.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a coming-of-age novel. Novels of this genre are very compelling and are usually based around teenagers going through some sort of hardship and surviving what happens. But that doesn't always mean that when they resolve the problem things become better. I forgot this. Other books I've read in this genre usually have a clearer, easier ending to understand, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl doesn't have that. My favourite genre of book is coming-of-age, and I would say this book is nothing like I've ever read before.
Jesse Andrews, the author of the book, does an incredible job of portraying his characters, especially Greg. From the first time Greg speaks on the page to the last time, we know exactly who he is. Greg is the most insufferable person I've ever had to read about but since he’s the narrator in the book, it gets kind of interesting. Greg is insufferable because he's like us, and I personally wouldn't want to write about a point in time where I just sucked, that would suck. Greg hates himself. He even says, “This book probably makes it seem like I hate myself and everything I do. But that's not totally true. I mostly just hate every person I've ever been.” That's just so relatable. I think this book was difficult to get through because it was just so honest in every way. I thoroughly enjoy the way Jesse Andrews writes his characters: so very relatable and thought-provoking.
Earl is Greg's best friend and my favourite character. Greg is written so well; he is such a good friend and tells it straight. For example, Earl says to Greg, “You’re being dumb as hell but I do feel you”. I think that perfectly summarizes Greg and Earl's friendship. The plot was gradually interesting, with Greg making friends with Rachel, the girl diagnosed with leukaemia. The fact that Greg hates everything in his life was super interesting. His pessimistic mindset throughout a beautiful story was oddly gripping.
A big theme in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is realizing how important life is. Greg never realized that, not until late into his friendship with Rachel. He finally realizes how grateful he should be that he's not dying - it sounds silly but it's true. Earl opened his eyes to how real it is that Rachel is dying and how he needs to give his head a shake or two.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl's ending was unsatisfying, but that was definitely the point. It left me wanting so much more and wanting it to end tied up neatly in a pretty bow. But it just didn't. I have a love-hate relationship with these types of endings, because they leave me thinking but also in deep, deep pain.
Jesse Andrews’ writing style is so interesting. Jesse likes to play around with the way he writes, whether it's using bullet point thoughts, script writing or just them having a conversation and thoughts in between as though we are really in his head. Everything about how Jesse wrote this book is whimsical, and you never know what's coming.
I knew the story of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl because I watched a TikTok that recommended the movie. I watched the movie and it changed my life. It is the best movie I've ever seen. So when I came across the book, of course, I had to read it. Like most books, they are different from the show/movie version. I personally like the movie better but you should still read the book!!
When I say I never want to read this book again that doesn't mean I didn't like it - I loved it. It means that some parts, especially in the end, were just so emotionally hard to read through, I do not want to read it again. After I finished reading this book I felt so sad, but the type of sad where tears don't come out. I looked back at some of my annotations and I saw something I wrote that I think summarizes my experience with this book perfectly: “Do not read this book unless you want to go through horrible pain and interesting understanding”.