Bison Book Nook | Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl


PAIGE JOHNSON Photo Credit | Greg Gaines is just trying to survive high school, but it becomes much harder when his friend is diagnosed with cancer
PAIGE JOHNSON | Photo Credit            Greg Gaines is just trying to survive high school, but it becomes much harder when his friend is diagnosed with cancer.

“Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl” is a story concerning one teenager’s struggle with friendship, illness and popularity.

An irreverent comedy, “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl” is written from the perspective of Greg Gaines, a senior in high school whose only goal is to stay invisible. He likens himself to a spy slipping between the cliques of his high school without ever having to deal with the drama that comes with belonging to one.

One day, at the beginning of his senior year, Greg’s mother decides he needs to speak to a friend from the past, Rachel, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

The story follows Rachel’s battle against leukemia and Greg’s struggle to accept that someone he knows may be dying, all while trying to survive high school and its social hierarchy.

When Greg and his best friend Earl Jackson decide to make a movie for Rachel, their lives change forever.

The story is told through a mix of paragraphs, movie scripts and headlines that are definitely unique to up-and-coming author Jesse Andrews. A graduate of Harvard University, Andrews has lived in Spain, Germany and the U.S. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, where his debut novel takes place.

Greg uses a mixture of humor, anger and teen angst as he navigates the minefield that his life has become.

This isn’t a love story and it isn’t a tragedy. It’s a true look at what it’s like to know someone going through something terrible in their life and how this can effect everyone around them.

While Greg is the chief narrator, the audience is given a very clear look at how the people Greg knows best react to the news that Rachel might be dying. It’s an introspective look at how people handle grief and just how someone is supposed to survive high school while simultaneously learning a few of life’s most important lessons.

This novel was adapted into a movie by the same name that premiered on July 1, 2015. The film is currently available on HBO Go, iTunes and YouTube.

Bison Book Nook is an occasional column highlighting contemporary novels.

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