Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Me & Earl & the Dying Girl

BTW: I LOVE this cover
I cry at movies, weddings, and Hallmark commercials.  I cry at all those things and sunsets, funerals, sweet ‘love you’ whispers, and many other emotional moments, everyday.  I also cry while reading a great book.  Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is a great book.  I laughed to the point of getting annoyed looks from my husband across the room and I cried until I had to put the book down, staining the library pages with my tears. The book is a surprisingly real look at high school friendships, the teenage mind, and death and dying.  The story is told in such a way that pulls readers into a teen’s life in a very personal way.

Protagonist Greg is sharing his life with you.  He doesn’t leave out the annoying parts, the gross parts, the socially awkward parts, or the heart-breakingly emotional parts.  He shares his personal story via short chapters, mini screenplay scenes, annotated lists, and multiple flashbacks.  Greg uses self deprecating humor as a tool to talk about parents, school, girls, friendships, and everything in between.  Add to the story Greg’s friend Earl whose constant references to erections, penchant for getting into trouble, and his massive anger issues somehow make him likable.  (Doesn’t sound true, but somehow, yes, it’s true.)  Finally the last part of the puzzle is Rachel, terminally ill and without stigmas or prejudice befriends both Greg and Earl.

This book should be a hit with YA readers.  I know I was immediately drawn to each of the characters for different reasons.  The direct and unapologetic nature of narrator, Greg, truly had adolescent crudeness and charm.  I just couldn’t stop laughing at him.  During one point in the book Greg nervously makes up a story about how his parents restrict how many pillows he can have on his bed because of his tendency to have self stimulating relationships with them (Greg doesn’t bother with this euphemism btw).  I laughed and saw how Rachel was drawn to him too.  Of course I cried too.  Author Jesse Andrews is able to build empathy for these teens and YA readers won’t be able to read this book without feeling it.  That’s somewhat rare for true empathy to come so naturally in book with such irreverent characters.

I am not going to hesitate to recommend this book.  Its style is bold and unforgiving, its message is powerful and important.  If you can sync these two contrasting thoughts in your head you will be rewarded with a great story.  Recommended for  Grades 10-12 and older YA readers.

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