On My Bookshelf: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

November 28, 2016

In Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, Greg thinks suffering the trials of being an outcast in high school is bad. Then his mom promises that he will befriend a classmate and former girlfriend who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Somehow Greg is able to infuse both situations with laughter for the other characters as well as the reader. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application
The basic plot from Amazon: This is the funniest book you’ll ever read about death. 
 
It is a universally acknowledged truth that high school sucks. But on the first day of his senior year, Greg Gaines thinks he’s figured it out. The answer to the basic existential question: How is it possible to exist in a place that sucks so bad? His strategy: remain at the periphery at all times. Keep an insanely low profile. Make mediocre films with the one person who is even sort of his friend, Earl.

This plan works for exactly eight hours. Then Greg’s mom forces him to become friends with a girl who has cancer. This brings about the destruction of Greg’s entire life.

Fiercely funny, honest, heart-breaking—this is an unforgettable novel from a bright talent, now also a film that critics are calling "a touchstone for its generation" and "an instant classic."

Why I liked it: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is the funniest book I've read in a long time. Funny like you'll laugh out loud and sometimes so hard the person sitting next to you will give you a strange look, especially since the title of the book references death, usually a serious topic. 

The characters are equally well developed and bizarre. Greg, the main character is unsure of himself Dead Poet's Society). He beats on chest when he agrees with students and demands to hear "facts." He also looks out for Greg all dealing with his friend Rachel's illness becomes increasingly intense.
In Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, Greg thinks suffering the trials of being an outcast in high school is bad. Then his mom promises that he will befriend a classmate and former girlfriend who has been diagnosed with leukemia. Somehow Greg is able to infuse both situations with laughter for the other characters as well as the reader. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application
and uncomfortable in his own skin. He makes others laugh as a way to cope with his insecurities, often by making depreciating jokes. He is usually brutally honest about his true feelings, which may cause laughter for the reader, but is not as well received by the other individuals in his life. My favorite two characters are Earl, the closest thing Greg has to a friend, and one of his teachers, Mr. McCarthy. Earl has a terrible home life and takes lower level classes despite being smart enough to do otherwise. He loves disgusting food (as does Greg's father) and serves as Greg's moral compass. Mr. McCarthy is overly enthusiastic (think Robin Williams standing on the desk in

Classroom application: The novel could be paired with The Fault in Our Stars to look at how teenagers deal with death, specifically terminal illness. The novel could also be connected with a unit on disease in science class and students could research leukemia or other life-threatening illnesses that affect young people.

Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, there's no happy ending in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl; Greg and Rachel do not fall hopelessly in love. A fun writing exercise would be for students to unwrite the happy ending of other famous stories in favor of something more realistic or even humorous.

Greg's meddling mother would be a great topic of discussion. Student could debate whether her actions were appropriate and more helpful or harmful to Greg.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

For more reading suggestions for students and teachers:



Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

You Might Also Like

0 comments