Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication date: March 2012 (available now in hardcover)
Oh, cancer. It seems like half the books I've read this year have been about kids with cancer. This one is no different--Rachel, a girl who went to Hebrew school with the main character, Greg, has just been diagnosed with acute leukemia. Greg's mom has decided that Greg should rekindle his friendship with Rachel.
You would not think that this situation would be pee-your-pants funny.
However, it is. This is mostly thanks to Greg's style of writing (which includes lots of interesting formatting decisions like pages of film script, bullet points, and a genius outline) and Earl. Earl is Greg's best friend. Although, since Greg would deny that he has any friends, he is referred to as a colleague.
As you have probably noticed, I prize characterization above all else when I'm judging a novel from my high-and-mighty Judgment Place. (The place is my bed. I write reviews from there, even though I have an office and a couch that would be more impressive Judgment Places.) This book's characters are amazing. Greg's dad is completely wacko and has a heartwarming relationship with Earl, who is a diminutive kid from a broken home. Their friendship mostly revolves around them sharing a love of disgusting foods like dried cuttlefish.
Greg's family's cat is named Cat Stevens.
Finally, Greg himself. Greg Gaines is a formerly aspiring filmmaker who has retired after creating The Worst Film Ever Made. He re-befriends Rachel because his mom basically makes him. He has fairly poor decision-making skills and an obsession with boobs. He's pasty, overweight, and annoyingly self-flagellating most of the time--and yet, I LOVE HIM TO DEATH. He belongs in the Protagonist Hall of Fame alongside Tom Henderson from KING DORK and Will Carter from CARTER FINALLY GETS IT.
In short, if you're going along with this recent trend toward dying teenaged characters, I highly recommend this book. It will be a refreshing change of pace. I also recommend it if you're avoiding the recent trend toward dying teenaged characters, because it's funny but also observant, and totally worth checking out.