Teen cancer novel offers originality

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” by Pittsburgh native Jesse Andrews, does everything right that John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” did wrong and then some.me and early and the dying girl

Andrews’s debut novel, which was released in 2012, is not a sob story about a boy and a girl who have cancer and fall in love, although there is a boy, a girl and cancer.

This novel is about Greg Gaines (“Me”), Earl (Greg’s only friend) and Rachel (“the Dying Girl”). Greg stays under the radar during his high school career and doesn’t mix with any specific social clique. He and Earl make their own movies, mostly spoofs of cult classics. Things get tricky when Greg’s mom forces him to rekindle a childhood friendship with Rachel, who has been diagnosed with leukemia.

What ensues is not a sappy romance, but an offensively witty and entertaining journey not to “get the girl,” but to make the girl happy and keep her laughing throughout her disease. Greg and Earl decide to make a movie for Rachel, which serves as a turning point in all three of their lives.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is original and surprisingly comical, partly because of the characters, as well the author’s writing style and the situations presented throughout the book.

Many readers were upset after finishing the book, saying that it makes light out of cancer. In my opinion though, we can’t be constantly reading the same old depressing books about the cancer. That’s what makes this one so original; it is serious when it has to be, but mostly, it’s charmingly hilarious.

While I laughed through a lot of the book, I did find myself crying a few times during the serious parts and even some of the comical parts. It does something to your heart, and it actually changes you for the better upon finishing the book. The novel gives a new view on adolescent cancer that has never been presented before.

If you have enjoyed other young adult books about cancer, I definitely recommend picking up “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” but don’t expect something like you’ve ever read before regarding the subject. Even if you don’t like all of the cancer fiction, you may still like this book, if not for anything else but its wit and entertainment.

I recommend seeing the movie adaptation of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” which was recently released on DVD. It is equally as good as the book.

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