RaeleighReads rating: 3 out of 5 coffee cups
“I’m smart in some ways- pretty good vocabulary, solid at math – but I am definitely the stupidest smart person there is…..I was going to be the worst friend in the history of dying girls…Because I don’t really have a moral compass and I need to rely on Earl for guidance, or else I might accidentally become like a hermit or a terrorist or something. How fucked up is that.”
I had to let this one marinate for a couple of days before reviewing because I had some very mixed feelings about it.
First, Jesse Andrews knows how to write capital F funny stuff. I laughed out loud for the majority of the book. Greg Gaines, the main character, is disparaging and self deprecating in the most hilarious way. And I was very satisfied with the way Andrews approached the topic of a teenager with cancer. This really wasn’t your typical cancer book, and I personally find the comparisons to The Fault in our Stars to be misguided.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl looks at cancer from an outsider’s perspective (Greg Gaines) not the perspective of the person dying from cancer (Rachel), and this leads to some very frank introspection on the part of Greg. Suffice it to say, not all of us respond very well to discovering someone we know has cancer, and not all of us respond with self-revelatory compassion for other human beings. Some of us default to moron.
Greg making fun of himself? Win. Greg making fun of everyone else? Not so much. Greg and Earl (Greg’s movie-making friend) have some very narrow and offensive views of the world. I don’t know if that is just how Andrews wrote the characters or if he himself, is narrow-minded and ignorant. Here’s where Andrews ruffled my feathers: Greg and Earl make fun of bisexual people. Just straight up laugh it off as if this is a perfectly acceptable thing to make fun of. Their moronic conversation only lasted about a page, thankfully, but it was enough to leave a really bad taste in my mouth for the rest of the book. Also, this conversation had absolutely nothing to do with the story line. That could be said for many of their interactions, but I tried to write those instances off as character development, albeit poorly done character development. The second thing I took offense to? Greg is a sexist ass any time he thinks about girls. Please God tell me not all teenage boys think like this. That is too depressing. Pretty much unless you are a cis straight white male, you will likely find something offensive in this book.
Am I too sensitive? Perhaps, but go ahead and read it. See how many times Greg and Earl can offend you throughout the book. Turn it into a drinking game. Greg says only stereotypically beautiful girls (read white, thin, big breasted, blonde-haired, perfect teeth) are worth looking at — take a shot! Earl makes fun of the Vietnamese man because he’s Vietnamese — take a shot! Greg and Earl say bisexual people enjoy watching dogs take a poo — take five shots! Hell, drink the whole bottle. As I write this I’m almost talking myself out of the three coffee cups I’ve begrudgingly decided to give it.
Some opinions you may find interesting:
“This was a reread for me and I had completely forgotten how HILARIOUS this book is! Even though it deals with a very serious topic, it doesn’t read like a very serious book. The tone of voice cracks you up and it is spot on from beginning to end. I also really like how this book is structured and how the story is told.”– helen the bookowl on Goodreads
“Second time I read it and my opinion didn’t change. Yes this is immature at times but what did you expect? The teenagers here feel real. Don’t wait for the big revelations, for the meaningful things these kids have to say, you’d be disappointed. Don’t wait for The Great Romance, either. That’s just LIFE and I adored it for its honesty.”– Alienor is waiting for July on Goodreads
Some other opinions you may find useful:
“Oh my god I hate this book so much. The last paragraph of this book is right. This book is a disgrace to the English language, and every language this book has been translated into. I honestly have no idea how Jesse Andrews made me hate every character except one. No idea.”– The Amazing Bookshelf on Amazon
“The book started strong but ran out of steam. Generally I don’t appreciate books with so many f-bombs. The swearing was creative at first but it became very grating after a while. There was entirely too much “middle” of this book, and the resolution fell flat.”– cwg on Amazon