295 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, March, 2012. 978-1-4197-0176-4. (Review of arc received at a NYPL giveaway.)
Senior Greg Gaines has achieved the near impossible - he has somehow managed to navigate his high school years without being assigned to a clique. He's friendly, but friendless, well, except for Earl, and, revels in his invisibility. When his mother suggests that he befriend, or re-friend, Rachel because she has recently been diagnosed with leukemia and Greg would be performing a mitzvah, Greg is unenthusiastic. Readers soon discover why and may wonder why Rachel would agree to spend even one hour with him.
At turns self-deprecating and crude, this first-person narrative combines screen-plays, lists, and movie reviews of his and Earl's failed movies to move the story along. Film buffs may recognize the movies that Greg and Earl
I spent the first chapter or two trying not to be offended. Not that crude language does that, but Greg is so prickly and for some reason the crudeness got under my skin. Then suddenly, I was snorting, yes, snorting with laughter. Repeatedly and guiltily.
When I featured this book in a Waiting on Wednesday post, I mentioned that it will beg comparison to A Fault in Our Stars, a book that I have read twice, but haven't blogged about. I just don't get all the starred reviews it garnered. I liked it enough, but felt it was pretentious and didn't break any new ground in Cancer Novel/ Tearjerker territory. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl did. It is not literary, but more truthful and less pretentious. And crude. Don't forget crude. It is not for every palate. And certainly not middle school fare. But I appreciated its honesty.
Definitely eager to read the author's sophomore novel.