Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is Greg's, a high school senior, account of his time spent with Rachel, a girl recently diagnosed with leukemia. But no, it's not that kind of Nicholas Sparks novel. There's no wedding to live out a dying girl's last wish, no life-changing lessons learned, no dramatic court scene to get her the treatment she needs. Greg tells the reader of this right off the bat. Alternating between lists, scripts, and prose, Greg explains how he was forced by his Mom to befriend the dying girl, how he is a failure at cheering up the soon-to-die, and how he realized he was the worst filmmaker of all time.
This novel is for the older teen with the twisted sense of humor - aka my favorite patron. This novel is all kinds of dark. It also contains a LOT of crude language, some violence, discussion of death, and various references to drug use, including one hilarious scene where Greg, who doesn't do drugs, is accidentally high and is afraid that the silence in the room is "possible racist silence."
The sheer ridiculousness, but also insightfulness (I made up a word) of the accidental high scene caused me to erupt into laughter while on an un-airconditioned subway stuffed full of miserable people trudging to their jobs who were unappreciative of my glee.
Anyway, this novel is darkly hilarious, a little depressing here and there (the words "dying girl" are in the title, after all), and a great reminder of how we need to take a break from putting ourselves first all the time. It's Jesse Andrews' debut novel and I'm excited to see what he does next.