A Timeless Tale About the True Meaning of Friendship: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Ashley Kim

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Jesse Andrews’ masterpiece Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of the best books I’ve ever read in a long time. The cynical humor made me laugh at almost every page, and its down-to earth tone made this book relatable. Also, for our filmophiles, its movie adaptation won two awards at the Sundance Film Festival.

The novel was narrated through high school social nomad Greg Gaines, who has a strategy to fitting in at school. Greg categorizes the people at his school into social groups but avoids becoming friends with anyone or making enemies. He only has one friend, Earl Jackson, a cigarette-smoking guy from a collapsing family who makes film parodies with Greg for fun. When this cycle of life is disrupted after Greg’s mom asks him to be friends with a girl with terminal leukemia, Greg desperately tries not to get attached to the ‘dying girl’ but instead learns what friendship really is.

When I first picked this book, I was worried that it was going to be a knock-off The Fault in Our Stars. A girl with cancer meets a boy, they fall in love, they kiss and have a great night, then everything goes downhill when the cancer relapses and kills one of the two lovers. Surprisingly, it denied every cliché that I could think of. The strange friendship between Greg and Rachel doesn’t even qualify as an actual relationship–it’s an impactful combination of having conversations and caring for each other.

It felt relatable because it wasn’t a story about the most good looking boy who gets all of the girls, the smart genius who saves the world, or the fantasy werewolf-vampire-girl love triangle. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is about an ordinary boy and his journey as he realizes that maybe friendship is more than laughing over homemade movies and rewatching Aguirre, the Wrath of God. Friendship is about being there for someone when he or she really needs a shoulder to cry on or a smile to give hope.

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